Dubai: Forming literary and cultural clubs where authors and intellectuals can meet will help bring people together and contribute to reaching world peace, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said on Thursday.
Shaikh Mohammad was speaking to the authors taking part in the third Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, at the session centre in the Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City.
He said that such events help extend bridges of communication with cultures around the world, as well as forge links between intellectuals in the field of literature. He was also told about the book titles of the young participants of the Students’ Writing Competition, which aims to consolidate the concept of culture, especially reading and writing, among younger generations.
Shaikh Mohammad praised the idea, and called on developing the contest, as well as expanding it every year at the festival.
Organising such events, he said, reflects the keenness of the leadership and institution to activate the role of literature and culture in UAE society, which is rich with energy, creativity and Arab Islamic heritage.
Shaikh Mohammad was accompanied by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Shaikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group.
Chinese poet Yang Lian recited a poem in Cantonese, upon the request of Shaikh Mohammad.
Shaikh Mohammad also spoke with Nigerian poet and Nobel prize winner Wole Soyinka and comic and travel writer Michael Palin.
After meeting the authors who had gathered in one of the main session rooms, Shaikh Mohammad then perused their books on display. Isobel Abulhoul, Festival Director, briefed the leaders.
The Literature Festival has been described as a “celebration of literature in all its forms”, which offers residents and overseas visitors the opportunity to meet famous authors, attend literary debates, listen to readings and participate in workshops.
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, now in its third year, is held under the patronage of Shaikh Mohammad in partnership with Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).
Shaikh Mohammad was announced as the new patron of the Literature Festival in January this year.
Shaikh Mohammad — himself a poet — established the Mohammad Bin Rashid Foundation in 2007, to invest in knowledge and human development.
To establish a knowledge-based society — the Foundation believes — requires the elimination of illiteracy, stimulation of research and development and a broader access to knowledge.
In the same year, Shaikh Mohammad launched Dubai Cares — a philanthropic organisation that aims to improve children’s access to quality primary education in developing countries.
To date, Dubai Cares has built and renovated more than 2,000 schools; trained more than 20,000 teachers; created more than 480 libraries; and distributed 1.3 million books written in local languages. The non-profit event is supported by sponsorship and the voluntary efforts of Dubai’s dedicated reading community.
Adonis, Abdo Khal, Karen Armstrong, Margaret Atwood, Edward de Bono, Bernard Cornwell (Sharpe), Anthony Horowitz, Madhur Jaffrey, Michael Morpurgo, Michael Palin, Tony Parsons, Lionel Shriver, Wole Soyinka and Tarek Ramadan are among the authors taking part in the Festival this year.
— With inputs from WAM