It just feels like yesterday when it was announced that the prestigious Hay Festival will be coming to Abu Dhabi.
Now, programme details including the list of invited guests have been revealed – and it’s absolutely star-studded!
The prestigious personalities range from award-winning writers, historians, journalists, film-makers and artists coming from all parts of the world.
In true UAE fashion, the festival embodies the country’s rich diversity, with guests representing different regions and countries like the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Nigeria and Europe.
Discussing the power of fiction are Nigerian Nobel Prize-winner, Wole Soyinka; Egyptian novelist, Ahdaf Soueif; Filipino writer, Miguel Syjuco; Pakistan’s Fatima Bhutto; Hoda Barakat from Lebanon; and two 2019 Booker Prize winners: Jokha Alharthi from Oman, winner of the Man Booker International Prize, and British writer, Bernardine Evaristo.
Some of the best Arab writers under 40 years old will grace the #Beirut39 programme such as novelists, Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq), Najwa Bin Shatwan (Libya), Youssef Rakha (Egypt) and Mohammed Hasan Alwan (Saudi Arabia).
Talking about his colorful adventures exploring the world’s literary cultures and libraries is Emirati short story writer, Mohammed Al-Murr.
The past and future of Arabic literature will be the topic of discussion as Ahmed El Shamsy discuss how print culture transformed Islamic intellectual tradition.
Meanwhile, Syrian poet, Adonis, will mark his 90th birthday and will be joined by other distinguished poets Volker Braun, Zuleikha Aburisha, Pierre Joris, Serge Pey and Yang Lian.
Also attending to read their works are India’s Tishani Doshi, Bahrain’s Qassim Haddad and Inua Ellams from the United Kingdom.
Bulgarian-British writer, Kapka Kassabova, who will be part of Hay Festival’s #Europa28 celebration in June, has also confirmed his attendance.
Three winners of the Nobel Prize will be sharing their insights in conversations during the festival, including Iran’s Shirin Ebadi, Tunisia’s Ahmed Galai, and Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka.
Historians like Bettany Hughes will discuss the rebuilding of Syrian heritage, while Peter Frankopan will talk about new silk roads, Jung Chang will tell a tale of life and power in 20th Century China, Shashi Tharoor will talk about his Hindu identity and William Dalrymple will discuss the British in India.
French physicist, Christophe Galfard, will give his valuable insights about space, time and beyond and Palestinian medical doctor, Izzeldin Abulaish, will address the link between health and peace, while Oxford Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Marcus du Sautoy, will talk about geometry and number mysteries.
The hot topic of climate change will also be tackled with Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Director of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, taking the floor. Award-winning garden designer, Kamelia Zaal, will share her expertise on regional plant life in the creation of some of the UAE’s most celebrated gardens.
A discussion on the present social and political situations in the Arab world will be held through a series of screening and attended by filmmakers from the region. Sheyma Buali, Director of BBC News Arabic, will be curating the programme.
Not to be outdone are children’s book authors Andy Stanton, Noura Al Khoori, Ed Vere, Maitha Al Khayat, Jenny Valentine, Philip Ardagh, Onjali Q Rauf and Michelle Paver. Teenage Emirati author, Dana Alblooshi, will introduce audiences to 13 amazing women of Arabia.
Hay Festival Abu Dhabi will run from 25th to 28th February at Manarat Al Saadiyat.
For more details and tickets, visit: hayfestival.com/abu-dhabi
Meanwhile, did you know that Japanese bookstore giant Kinokuniya will open its first Abu Dhabi branch at The Galleria Al Maryah Island in March? So take note of the authors we’ve just mentioned and make sure to check out (and buy) their works at the bookstore once it’s up and running.