Tag Archives: Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Emirates Lit Fest 2017: Emirati author Ahmed Al Shoaibi inspires the next generation

By Hala Khalaf

Ahmed Al Shoaibi’s success as an author was not shared by all those close to him.

The Emirati, whose work is published in English, recalls that his 9-year-old niece criticised him for not writing a story featuring a female protagonist.

“The initial success of the Hamad stories was so heartwarming,” says Al Shoaibi, whose six instalments of his The Tales of Hamad children’s books last year follow an Emirati boy sharing his nation’s cultures and traditions.

“[But] my niece was right: the UAE is a land where women are respected and hold the highest positions, whether a minister or a mother, or both. Creating a leading, adventurous female character made sense.”

As a result, he wrote four more books about Hamad’s sister, Ayesha.

As an engineer and associate professor of chemical engineering and the dean of academic affairs at the Petroleum Institute (PI) in Abu Dhabi, Al Shoaibi didn’t envisage a side-career as an author.

The inspiration came from one of the UAE’s saddest experiences as a nation. “When we lost 45 martyrs in October 2015 in Yemen, it came as a shock to us as Emiratis,” says Al Shoaibi. Read more
Source: The National

‘I believe he (RK Narayan) should have won the Nobel Prize’ – Jeffery Archer

By Rituparna Mahapatra

jefferyHe lives the life of a real Hero, a superman of sorts , whose life and career is nothing short of a thrilling story — novelist, playwright, former Tory deputy chairman, a mayoral candidate for London, champion athlete, a celebrity, and tragically a prisoner and failed businessman — he has done it all and triumphed. His stint in prison could not pin him down and there he wrote his Clifton Chronicles, a runaway bestseller yet again. Although he is reluctant to talk about most parts of his life, Jeffrey Archer has mastered the craft of popular storytelling, and has understood and grasped the dynamics involved in it.

His books have sold over 300 million copies worldwide, and translated in over 37 languages. But he has not won a single literary prize in the UK. Regardless, Archer thinks of himself as a storyteller, one who is gifted and says it’s difficult to be considered a good writer if you are a storyteller. He says he is lucky to be a storyteller since you are not confined to a particular niche of readers or time, you go beyond that. That is the reason Dickens and Jane Austen are read widely even now, he says.

He stresses the importance of discipline and hard work for aspiring writers. “There are no short cuts,” he says. His famed writing regime is about 8 hours of writing every day, which begins at 6am in the morning and ends at 8pm in the evening. He writes for two hours at a time with breaks in between, when he goes for long walks. He mostly writes from his house in Majorca, overlooking the bay. He still handwrites his first draft, with Staedtler pencils and even after authoring 150 books, he is nervous when he starts a new project.

Interestingly, writing was his second career option, which he had to fall back upon to pay off his debts, which he incurred as a failed businessman. Other than that, he loves Cricket, and says he would have been a cricketer if he hadn’t been a writer.

At 76, he shows no signs of slowing down, his mind still brimming with new ideas and his body as fit as ever. Having survived prostate cancer, he proudly says, “I train three times a week in the gym, and have an outstanding New Zealand trainer who pushes me as far as she can, and I certainly benefit from it.”

Speaking about the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature at Dubai, he says it’s a brilliant platform, an event managed wonderfully by Isobel Abulhoul, and is getting better by the day.

You have been writing for more than three decades now, and even now your books are loved by millions the world over. How does it feel and how do you manage to do it?

I’m very lucky to be born with the simple gift of storytelling, and although I work very hard, I enjoy what I’m doing, and the reactions from my readers.

You call yourself a storyteller. How important is it for you to tell a story? Do you follow a specific structure in your storytelling?

It’s hugely important to tell a story, and have a beginning, a middle and an end. When I start a new book, I have in my mind an idea of where I want to the book to go, but sometimes the characters take me in an entirely different direction, or I come up with a brand new ending half way through. You should always be open to this.

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Dubai Opens its Doors to Fans of Literature

By Rituparna Mahapatra

On 3rd March, 2017, the much loved Emirates Airline Festival of Literature opened in Dubai. The festival is on for nine days from 3-11 March, and is held during the UAE’s Month of Reading. Welcoming more than 180 authors from all over the world, including 70 authors from the Arab world, this event is marked with 250 sessions of master classes, workshops, talks and interactive panel discussions from the very best in the literary world. The festival widely covers all areas of creativity from literature, art, music, cooking to photography.

There are over 50 children’s session, the most popular being ones with Francesca Simon, the creator of the Horrid Henry series, and Julia Johnson. The highlight of the festival is talks and interactive sessions by master storyteller Lord Jeffrey Archer, and talks by John Hemmingway, the grandson of the legendary Ernest Hemmingway, celebrated crime writer Kathy Reichs, veteran Emirati author Abdull Aziz AlMusallam and award-winning journalist Christina Lamb.

From 5th to 7th March, the festival conducts a residential writing course for aspiring writers conducted by award winning international authors. The students will get an opportunity to present and discuss their manuscripts and meet with various publishing houses and agents; the first of its kind in the region.

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Emirates Lit Fest 2017: Poets, writers celebrate Iraq’s book street Al Mutanabbi

By Tahira Yaqoob

Mohammad Al Khashali counts off each of his sons, one by one. There was Kadhem, found under the rubble of the printing house, no more than “a piece of meat”. Mohammed, who had taken a hit to the stomach and lost his left foot. His youngest, Bilal, whose head he had to search for among the ruins after finding a decapitated body. And his eldest, Ghanim, his body curled around his own dismembered son’s corpse, right where they had been carrying out repairs on the printing press.

“The good people of Baghdad brought their pick-ups and we found and gathered body parts, limbs,” says Al Khashali quietly in the short film, Forgive But Never Forget that screened in Dubai on Sunday as part of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

“I took the bodies home. Their mother wanted me to remove their shrouds so she could see them. I did not want her to see them like that, pieces of meat, but she insisted. She wailed and fell to the floor.”

That terrible day in March 2007, when 30 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a street full of booksellers, is etched in the memories of Iraqis.

The car bomb attack outside Al Khashali’s Shabandar Cafe in Al Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad was seen not just as an assault on Iraqi civilians but as an offensive against the very heart of culture, learning and civilisation itself.

For almost a century, the cafe had served as a magnet for Iraqi poets, playwrights, philosophers, dissenters and politicians who would sit on wooden benches and discuss the ebb and flow of life, love and politics for hours, over cups of sweetened tea.

That was all shattered with the eruption of sectarian violence following the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Al Mutanabbi Street – a narrow, winding alleyway leading to the Tigris River, and the cultural heartbeat of Baghdad – became a target.

Its many booksellers and street book vendors began to fear for their lives after Qais Anni, a stationer who sold Easter cards, was killed in a bomb blast in 2005, followed two years later by the attack on the Shabandar. Read more

Source: The National

Special Report: The 8th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature opens in Dubai

by Rituparna Mahapatra, Editor-at-Large, Dubai


Ritu with Tom Callaghan

The 8th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, a two-week celebration of the written and spoken word, is being held in Dubai from the 1st to the 12th of March, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The official opening was on Tuesday, the 8th of March.

The festival, the largest of its kind in the region, welcomes more than 140 authors, poets and speakers all under one roof to enrich and enlighten audiences of all age groups.

Numerous events for kids have been lined up, which could take them into the world of letters, art, drama, and fantasy. The most sought after is Jim Kay’s “A Muggle’s–eye view of Harry Potter”, Lauren Child’s talk about Charlie and Lola, and the “Once Upon a Time Tea Parties” where children are invited to attend dressed as their favorite character, and served scrumptious tea, cakes and cookies and sandwiches and excitement! Read more

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature scoops best festival award

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has been named best festival at the Middle East Event Awards for the third consecutive year.

There were many UAE rivals to beat this year, including the Zayed Heritage Festival, Ajyal Youth Film Festival, Sharjah International Book Fair, Dubai Food Carnival and F1’s music festival Yasalam 2014 also nominated in the category.

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10 notable moments from this year’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

As the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature wrapped up its seventh edition over the weekend, here’s a look at 10 of this year’s noteworthy moments.

Welcome to wonderland

The festival kicked off last Tuesday with a glittering opening ceremony at the Cultural and Scientific Association in Al Mamzar. Director Isobel Abulhoul set the scene, describing the festival theme of “wonderland” as “about making the black squiggles on the white page leap out at us with images so real and believable that fiction becomes fact or fact becomes fiction, characters become our friends or enemies, and heroes become villains”.

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Emirates Airline Festival of Literature off to a poetic start

Children, poetry and a pair of freakishly realistic horse ­puppets were all part of the fun at the opening night of the Emirates Airline Festival of ­Literature.

Many of the guest authors who will appear during the festival were at March 3’s event held in the theatre of The Cultural and Scientific Association in Dubai’s Al Mamzar, which also included a special address by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the UAE’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Community ­Development. Read more

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature: the best bits

The sixth Emirates Airline Festival of Literature drew to a close on Saturday night with several hours of thank you speeches, wrapping up four days of fascinating talks, debates and workshops at the InterContinental Hotel in Dubai’s Festival City. Isobel Abulhoul, the director, had compiled an excellent and diverse programme this year, mixing well-known names from British literature, media and publishing with a host of international authors, many of them Arabic.

Judging by the buzzing corridors between sessions every guest will have had their own highlights, but here is my choice of some of the finest. Read more

Festival honours “Girl of the Arabs” who pioneered Emirati women poetry

Ousha awarded 2014 Personality of the Year at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature: Gulfnews.com

Image Credit: Courtesy: Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
Ousha’s great-grandson, Mohammad Ahmad Al Qamzi, and Dr Rafia Ghubash, founder of the Women’s Museum, accept the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature Personality Award on behalf of Ousha from Festival Director Isobel Abulhoul.


Pioneering Emirati poet Ousha Bint Khalifa Bin Ahmad Al Suwaidi was honoured with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2014 Personality of the Year award on Saturday in recognition of her contribution to Arab literature. Read more

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