Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Bringing together literature, art, film, food and performance, the 2021 Emirates Airline Festival of, themed ‘Change the Story’ starts at Jameel Arts Centre on Friday, January 29, continues to Festival City, and concludes at Alserkal Avenue on February 13.⁠

With something for everyone, the weekend programme boasts six inspiring headline talks and panels featuring: Booker Prize nominated novelist Avni Doshi; acclaimed Iraqi author Shahad AlRawi; Arab World publishing archivists Camil Karam and Hussein Alazaat; prolific book designer Irma “Queen of Books” Boom; celebrated Filipino poet Danabelle Gutierrez; and finally, indie publishers JARA Collective with Shamma Al Bastaki, Sarah Almeheiri and Arthur de Oliviera. Children’s workshops, masterclasses, free exhibitions and outdoor sessions and tours are all part of the Festival excitement, bringing a Magrudy’s pop-up bookshop and local eateries right to Jameel Arts Centre to celebrate literature, art and design!

The full schedule and ticket-booking are now live — first come, first served!

Pre-registration is strongly advised, as seats will be reserved on a first-come-first-serve basis. Talks and performances taking place in the Jameel Arts Centre’s outdoor amphitheatre, plus special walking talks and tours of exhibitions, are free and open to all: please register in advance through the RSVP link under each session description. 

Indoor, limited capacity workshops are ticketed: booking a place as soon as possible is highly recommended — via the links under each session description below or via the Emirates LitFest online box office. 

See full schedule below:

Day 1: Friday, January 29

Children’s workshop | Discovering Stella’s Song: Workshop with Stephanie Robert & Jojo’s Arthouse
1:00-2:30pm, Age: 6-8, Price: AED 150, (English)
Book ticket
Dubai-based Stephanie Robert is here to delight you with a creative workshop based on her latest book Stella’s Song. When Stella takes a nap, her dream leads her into the jungle and she discovers just what an amazing person she really is. Hear Stephanie read the tale of Stella and be guided through a mindfulness exercise to discover just where your own imagination can take you. Jojo’s Arthouse will then take you on a journey through your creativity with an interactive Stella’s Song themed workshop where you will create your own ”Stella” canvas to take home. This is a winning combination to set children on the path of mindfulness, unleashing their imagination with the guidance of these expert practitioners. With so many uncertainties just now, this is a perfect event for a young audience!

Adult workshop | A Thousand Words: A Workshop with Danabelle Gutierrez
1:00-2:30pm, Age: 16+, Price: AED 200, (English) Book ticket
We all know the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” but how about putting that into practice? Poets have been writing “ekphrastic” poetry for years, reflecting on paintings, drawings and sculptures, and in this workshop writer and performance poet Danabelle Gutierrez will help you create your very own poem inspired by an artwork on show at Jameel Arts Centre.  

Tour | Jameel Arts Centre Exhibition Tour
2:30-3:15pm, Free (English) FULLY BOOKED, please check in-person onsite for any vacancies.
A curator-led tour of Dubai’s contemporary art museum, including its gardens and exhibitions, from group show ‘Age of You’ to those featuring artists and practitioners Hiwa K, Sunoj D and Namrata Neog, David Hirsch and Hassan Khan.

Adult workshop | Making Extraordinary Books: Workshop with Irma Boom
3:30-5:00pm, Age: 18+, Price AED 200, (English) Book ticket
Graphic designer Irma Boom has won renown worldwide for her innovations in book design. In this rare chance to learn directly from her in a small-group setting, she will demonstrate her “architectural” approach to turning commissions into unique objects imbued with meaning. Ideal for design students and professionals but open to anyone interested in how industrial production can still lead to products full of beauty and meaning—not to be missed!

Tour | ‘Age of You’ Walking Talk: Shumon Basar
4:30-5:15pm, Free, (English) Book ticket
Join ‘Age of You’ co-curator Shumon Basar on a Walking Talk of the kaleidoscopic exhibition that explores the “extreme self” and what it means to be an individual today through the work of more than 70 contributors from the worlds of art, design, filmmaking, photography, performance and electronic music. 

Talk | Avni Doshi: Burnt Sugar (in conversation with Lana Shamma)
5:30-6:30pm, Free, (English) Book ticket
“I would be lying if I said my mother’s misery has never given me pleasure.”Avni Doshi’s Booker Prize-shortlisted debut novel Burnt Sugar attracted widespread critical acclaim for its “feverish prose” and visceral portrayal of a toxic mother-daughter relationship. In this literary conversation Avni discusses her journey to publication, which saw early success in winning the Tibor Jones South Asia prize but also a lengthy redrafting process, during which Avni travelled between India, the United States and the UAE, followed by competition among publishers to get the rights to the finished novel. Don’t miss this chance to catch one of the UAE’s own rising literary stars speaking about the writing craft and what she has planned for the future!

Tour | Jameel Arts Centre Exhibition Tour
5:30-6:15pm, Free (Arabic) Book ticket
A curator-led tour of Dubai’s contemporary art museum, including its gardens and exhibitions, from group show ‘Age of You’ to those featuring artists and practitioners Hiwa K, Sunoj D and Namrata Neog, David Hirsch and Hassan Khan.

Talk | Shahad AlRawi: Over the Republic Bridge (in conversation with writer Maryam Al Dabbagh) 
7:00-8:00pm, Free, (Arabic) Book ticket
Following her internationally-acclaimed first novel The Baghdad Clock, which was translated into a number of languages, Shahad AlRawi returns to her heroines and the Baghdad that we love in Over the Republic Bridge. She explores the hope, friendships and true love of three generations as their destinies intersect and they navigate between their present lives and the nostalgia for a past that never leaves them.

Tour | Comics Display Walking Talk: David Hirsch
7:30-8pm, Free (English) Book ticket
Journey through comics from across the Arab world, from the 1950s to the present day, with distinguished librarian and avid collector, David Hirsch, to learn about his experience in mapping out comic book, graphic novel, and manga practices across the Arab world.

Talk | Visual Exploration of publications in the Arab World: Camil Karam & Hussein Alazaat
8:30-9:30pm, Free, (Arabic) Book ticket
Designers Hussein Alazaat of ‘The Beautiful Books Trove’ archive and Camil Karam of YaHala Studio of rare comics, publications and ephemera discuss the history of Dar El-Fata El-Arabi (The Arab Child Publishing House) launched in Beirut in 1974 and art-directed by the late renowned Egyptian illustrator and book maker Mohieddin El-Labbad known for creating progressive children’s books and comics in the region. The talk traces El-Labbad’s pioneering collaborations with artists, designers and writers to his great legacy in children literature in the Arab World including UAE’s Majed Magazine. Jameel Library also features an exclusive 4-day display of rare comics and ephemera from Hussein and Camil’s archives on January 28-31, 2021, coinciding with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Festival.

Day 2: Saturday, January 30

Children’s workshop | Naqshun: Workshop with Maitha Al Khayat
1:30-2:30pm, Age: 6-8, Price: AED 60, (Arabic) Book ticket
Naqshun is in trouble, and looking for help to get out of his dilemma. What happened, and how will he find a solution? Join Maitha Al Khayat to get to know Naqshun, his family and his new friend, and enjoy live drawing. You will learn to draw your favourite character – and add your own touch to it.

Adult workshop | The Novel-Writing Trouble-Shooter: Writing Workshop with Annabel Kantaria
1:30-3:00pm, Age: 18+, Price: AED 200, (English) Book ticket
Whether you’re just starting a story, or have hit the wall at several thousand words, this encouraging workshop will help you identify what is and isn’t working in your WIP and show you how to break through common roadblocks. We’ll look at how problems with structure, pacing, plot and characters can cause your writing to grind to a halt – and then we’ll go through ways to fix them.

Tour | Jameel Arts Centre Exhibition Tour
2:30-3:15pm, Free (Arabic) Book ticket
A curator-led tour of Dubai’s contemporary art museum, including its gardens and exhibitions, from group show ‘Age of You’ to those featuring artists and practitioners Hiwa K, Sunoj D and Namrata Neog, David Hirsch and Hassan Khan.

Teens workshop | The Story of a Thread: Workshop with Simar Halwany
3:30-5:30pm, Age: 12+, Price: AED 100, (Arabic) Book ticket
Join Simar Halwany to discover where silent books were first created, how their popularity has spread, and how to read them. Simar will show you how to develop your book using multiple illustrative techniques to express your ideas and stories just through images. Focusing on the structure and artistry of silent books, along with the basic drawing elements required, you will learn fantastic new skills.

Adult workshop | Make Your Book Eternal: Masterclass with Hafsa Lodi
4:00-5:00pm, Age: 18+, Price: AED 150, (English) Book ticket
Do your big ideas stretch beyond your book? In this masterclass aimed at non-fiction writers at any stage of their career, Hafsa Lodi will demonstrate how to put together a business plan for a digital space where your ideas can be eternalised. Drawing on what she has learned in setting up her new website modestish.com, Hafsa will teach you the ways to provide additional content that your readers will keep coming back for more.

Tour | ‘Age of You’ Walking Talk: Shumon Basar
4:30-5:15pm, Free, (English) Book ticket
Join ‘Age of You’ curator Shumon Basar on a Walking Talk of the kaleidoscopic exhibition that explores the “extreme self” and what it means to be an individual today throught he work of more than 70 contributors from the worlds of art, design, filmmaking, photography, performance and electronic music. 

Tour | Comics Display Walking Talk: David Hirsch
4:30-5:00pm, Free (Arabic) Book ticket
Journey through comics from across the Arab world, from the 1950s to the present day with distinguished librarian and avid collector, David Hirsch’s, to learn about his experience in mapping out comic book, graphic novel, and manga practices across the Arab world.

Talk | Irma Boom in Conversation (with Fikra Design Studio Founder Salem Al Qassemi) 
5:30-6:30pm, Free, (English) Book ticket
Designer extraordinaire Irma Boom’s remarkable career has seen her redefine the purpose of books as a medium of storytelling. With a portfolio of over 300 books already in print, Boom meticulously creates them for our use while embodying in design the context portrayed in their pages. The youngest recipient of the Gutenberg Prize, Boom has books in permanent collections in the Museum of Modern Art, the Vatican Library, and the Pompidou Centre, among other institutions. Join us for an exploration of Irma’s career, her perspective on artistic autonomy and the challenges in reinventing our understanding of books.

Young adult workshop | Let’s Design Arabic Books!: Workshop with Hussein Alazaat
6:00-7:30pm, Age: 15+, Price AED 200, (Arabic) Book ticket
In this 90-minute workshop, led by multi-disciplinary designer, instructor, Arabic calligraphy artist Hussein Alazaat, participants sketch their own made-up book titles using either Arabic calligraphic styles or free-form and experiment with book layout and grid design. Final designs are kept on display for the duration of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature at Jameel Arts Centre.

Tour | Jameel Arts Centre Exhibition Tour
6:30-7:15pm, Free (English) FULLY BOOKED, please check in-person onsite for any vacancies.
A curator-led tour of Dubai’s contemporary art museum, including its gardens and exhibitions, from group show ‘Age of You’ to those featuring artists and practitioners Hiwa K, Sunoj D and Namrata Neog, David Hirsch and Hassan Khan.

Talk | Danabelle Gutierrez: Poetry in a Constantly Changing Landscape (in conversation with Lana Shamma)
7:00-7:30pm, Free, (English) Book ticket
Drawing on the experience of a life lived across the globe, writer, actress and photographer Danabelle Gutierrez creates and performs vibrant and powerful poetry. Hear her take on the writing journey, the influence of words and what it takes to put your emotions out there on stage.

Talk | The JARA Collective: Beyond Poetry (in conversation with writer and Sharjah Art Foundation researcher Saira Ansari)
8:00-9:00pm, Free, (English) Book ticket
How does a small press bring new writing to life in its simplest, most elegant form? What can history teach us about the importance of independent publishing, and what makes a poetry chapbook so special? Poets and artists Shamma Al Bastaki and Sarah Almehairi from the UAE’s own JARA Collective will discuss all this and more, while introducing a performance from their very first chapbook author, Arthur de Oliveira, and prompting the audience to contribute their own words to a yet-to-be written poem that will become a physical memento of the evening.

For more information about the full festival programme and invited authors click here

 

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