Though the big-name international authors appearing at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, such as Jeffery Archer and crime novelist Kathy Reichs, often get the most attention, it is worth remembering there are 140 writers attending the event.
Among them are some of the biggest names in the Arab literary world. All Arabic sessions will be translated into English, so everyone can share their ideas on literature, writing and translation to as wide an audience as possible. Here are a few of the most notable regional names to look out for.
Badriah Al Bishr
A novelist, columnist and journalist from Saudi Arabia, Al Bishr published three collections of short stories in the 1990s, followed by several novels. Three of these – Hind and the Soldiers, The Seesaw and Love Stories on Al Asha Street – were longlisted for the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
Her latest work, Thursday’s Visitors, addresses the issues facing modern women in conservative Arab society. She will talk about the novel on March 9, and will also take part in a discussion on Monday, about how best to speak up for gender equality. Both sessions are in Arabic, with English translation.
Hailed as the “the Martin Luther King of the Middle East”, Abuelaish is a Palestinian-Canadian doctor. His award-winning book I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity, is an autobiography inspired by the loss of his three daughters and their cousin to Israeli tank fire.
Abuelaish will host a discussion on March 9, during which he will speak (in English, with Arabic translation) about the peacemaking mission that has taken him all over the world. He will also take part in a discussion on identity and nationalism on March 10.
An Egyptian writer and journalist, Farghali’s latest work, Ma’bad Anamel Al-Harir (The Temple of Silk Fingertips), was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction last year and he recently won the Sawiris Cultural Award for best novel in the established-writers category.
Although best known for his fiction, Farghali is also the author of two travel books, including an account of his adventures in Africa, Asia and Europe.
On March 11, he will take part in a panel discussion about documenting memories during a journey. The day before, Farghali will be part of a workshop for young adults and teenagers exploring how to write fantasy fiction.