Dubai’s first ‘Literary Majlis’ offers glimpse of 2010 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

A ‘Literary Majlis’, held this evening in the evocative surroundings of the Bastakiya district of Dubai, offered a glimpse of ‘the riches to come’ at next year’s Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature. The Festival will be held under the patronage of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, the Emirate’s dedicated authority for art, culture, and heritage, from 10th to 13th March 2010.

The ‘Literary Majlis’ featured readings by several celebrated international and UAE-based authors including the winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (‘Arabic Booker’) Professor Youssef Ziedan,  who flew in specially for the event, Abu Dhabi based Leila Aboulela as well as Dubai-based authors Maha Gargash, Nujoom Al Ghanem and children’s author Julia Johnson.

The evening’s entertainment was hosted jointly by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (DCAA) and the Festival organisers at ‘House 69’ in Bastakiya, a converted former residence located at the heart of Dubai’s heritage district set by the banks of the Creek.   Guests were greeted on arrival by Emirati Yola dancers and musicians and the venue was dressed in traditional majlis style.

‘With less than five months to go to next year’s Festival, the sense of anticipation and excitement is growing among the many sections of Dubai’s diverse community which provided such fantastic support for our inaugural event,’ said Isobel Abulhoul, Festival Director, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. 

‘Hosted at a beautiful venue in a relaxed, informal environment the ‘Literary Majlis’ has provided a wonderful appetiser for the riches that are to follow next March.’

At this evening’s event organisers launched ‘Friends of the Festival’, an initiative intended to encourage the book-loving community throughout the region and beyond to become more closely involved in the Festival.  Becoming a ‘Friend’ entitles members to a host of benefits including discounts on tickets, priority booking, exclusive members-only events and offers, a dedicated box office and access to a designated relaxation area at the Festival.  Yearly membership is priced at 120dhs for individuals, 180dhs for couples and 240dhs for families.

‘It is remarkable what an enormous impact the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has had in its inaugural year,’ said Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice Chairman, Emirates Airline and Group, ‘The challenge facing all of us involved in the Festival is to build on that initial success. The excellent response from the literary community throughout the globe to next year’s festival along with the launch of new initiatives, such as ‘Friends of the Festival’, suggest that next year’s Festival will be a ‘must see’ on the region’s cultural calendar.’

Saeed Al Naboudah, Chief Projects Officer, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said ‘The Literary Majlis is a perfect blend of two powerful cultural indicators of the Arab world – the tradition of story-telling and the solidarity highlighted at a Majlis.  Khor Dubai has been the lifeline of Dubai’s cultural and social evolution, and a Literary Majlis, held on the shores of the Khor, offered the perfect opportunity to further engage authors and readers in an informal environment.  The Majlis has sent the stage for the rich debate and interaction that can be expected at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.’

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