Spotlight on the Emirates Wraps Up

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Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2016 Completes Opening Segment

Dubai, 3 March, 2016: Spotlight on the Emirates, the brand new platform for Emirati literature at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2016 has ignited a desire for more such events. The segment was held from 1-3 March and featured a number of renowned personalities from the Emirates at the Dubai International Writers’ Centre in the Al Shindagha Historical Neighbourhood. The segment was sponsored by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation as part of the Festival’s Emirati strand.

Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature was delighted by the success of this part of the programme. ‘We are all very lucky to be a part of the Emirates, a hotspot of cultural and social events. It has been our pleasure to bring into the limelight all of our favourite Emirati authors and provide the next generation of Arabic writers the opportunity to learn from these experts. This is just one step taken by us to encourage a love for reading in the Year of Reading, as declared by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.’Spotlight on the Emirates

The opening evening of Spotlight on the Emirates paid tribute to the life of legendary writer and poet, Mohammed Bin Hadher, who had attended the Festival in 2010. Renowned author Ibrahim Al Hashimi, who has written a book on Bin Hadher’s life and poems, led the tribute by the family and colleagues which talked about Bin Hadher’s impact on UAE culture through his contributions to the establishment of Al Nadwa: The UAE Cultural and Scientific Association and the Rashid Prize for Higher Education.

Award-winning poet, scriptwriter and film director Nujoom Al Ghanem conducted a three-day film-making masterclass for a packed audience of aspiring directors, while children’s author Shaima AlMarzooqi’s workshop was very popular.

Festival Director Isobel Abulhoul joined TV broadcast professional and executive coach Mai El Khalifa and the first Emirati founder of a Pilates studio in the UAE, Asma Hilal Lootah for a special panel discussion on balancing work and life in the UAE.

Creating an informal and intimate gathering, the Festival’s first ever ‘Stories and Poems from the Desert to the City’ was a massive hit. The evening, which featured Ali Abu Al Reesh, Fahad Almamari, Humaid bin Thaiban Al Mansoori, Dr. Hessah Abdullah Lootah among others, celebrated the rich history of the region through oral story-telling. The three-day segment ended with UAE poetry groups The Poeticians and Punch Poetry combining forces to provide an unforgettable evening of verse. Two international choirs brought to Dubai by ChoirFest Middle East also participated in the Spotlight on the Emirates.

‘Of course, there is so much more for UAE audiences to enjoy over the following days of the Festival,’ Abulhoul added. ‘From 5-12 March, international and Gulf stars will be assembling to talk about everything from science, publishing, food and nutrition, history, theatre and so much more.’

The Festival moves to the InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City on 5 March with a host of sessions for all ages, starting with children’s sessions by Rachel Hamilton, Morna McDonald and Julia Johnson while Arab World writers David Neild and Adel Khozam will discuss their unique histories in the region. Astronaut Chris Hadfield and members of the UAE Mars Mission team will enlighten all space enthusiasts with sessions brought to the Festival by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

Sunday and Monday will be capped off by The Kumars at No. 42 star Meera Syal and My Family patriarch Robert Lindsay discussing their lives on stage, screen and writing.

From 8 March onwards the Festival will go into full swing with Wahat Al Zaman and the rest of the special events, including the Literary Cruise, Desert Stanzas, the Time Travel Dinner and the UAE’s first performance of Steven Berkoff’s Shakespeare’s Villains among the 300-plus sessions featuring 150 authors. Ticket prices start at AED 50 and can be purchased via the Festival website or at select WHSmith stores across the UAE.

All information about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is on-line. Check for updates at Join us on Facebook (, Twitter (, Instagram ( and YouTube ( for competitions and more updates.