Dubai :  The work of the venerated poet Ousha Bint Khalifa and prolific short-story writer Mohammed Al Murr are among those highlighted among the best literary achievements of the last half century profiled by the not-for-profit organisation which supports and nurtures a love of literature in the UAE and the region.

“For a young country with a comparatively young literary tradition, we have developed a vibrant literary scene and a wonderful array of Emirati talent,” said Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation. “We are on the cusp of an exciting new era for literature from the UAE.”

Notable authors on the wide-ranging list include novelist Maha Garghash, children’s author and illustrator Maitha Al Khayat, poet and film maker Nujoom Al Ghanem and sci-fi writer Noura Al Noman.

A selection of the top names, including Dr Afra Atiq, Omar Saif Ghobash, Salha Obaid and Dubai Abulhoul, will be taking part in the 2022 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (3-12 February), along with new up-and-coming Emirati writers and performers.

The latest episode of the Boundless Book Club features Emirati writer Eman AlYousuf and Festival Director Ahlam Bolooki in conversation about popular Emirati books and genres, while HE Omar Saif Ghobash joins the conversation to talk about his own upcoming novel. The feature about the UAE’s evolving literary landscape is available on the blog.

“One of our aims is to provide a platform for more Emiratis to tell their stories”, continued Abulhoul. “We do this through initiatives such as First Chapter, our new global standard mentorship programme, designed to nurture emerging writing talent. We want to encourage new voices, telling our unique stories and the perspectives that currently may not yet be known beyond the region. Authentic narratives, whether it is the retelling of our traditional folk tales or insight into contemporary lives, are all equally important and need to be heard throughout the world.”

First Chapter, the ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship, is the first initiative of its type in the region for aspiring writers from the UAE and is free to successful applicants. For details on how to apply, please see

More information about the Emirates Literature Foundation can be found online and year-round news of #EmiratesLitFest on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The Foundation also has two podcasts; the Best of the Emirates LitFest, and the Boundless Book Club. 

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About the Emirates Literature Foundation:

The Emirates Literature Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which supports and nurtures a love of literature in the United Arab Emirates and the region, through a programme of varied cultural initiatives.

Established in 2013 by Royal Decree issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Foundation aims to foster a love for literature, with a focus on the Arabic language.

In line with the National Reading Policy of the UAE, the Foundation has implemented several long-term projects including the School Librarian of the Year Award, Kateb Maktub, and From the Inside Out, as well as conducting year-round student education programmes, book clubs and creative writing courses. The Foundation’s previous initiatives included the 2020 International Literary Festivals Conference, 2016 Dubai Translation Conference and the 2017 Dubai International Publishing Conference.

The Foundation is also the governing body of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the UAE’s premier literary festival. 

About the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature:

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the Arab World’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, featuring international and regional writers, poets, thinkers and speakers from around the world. Over the last 13 years more than 1,700 authors from over one hundred countries have spoken at the Festival. In 2021 the Festival reached more than 117,000 people, in person and via live streaming. Sessions included Nobel prize winner Malala, Booker Prize nominees Avni Doshi (Burnt Sugar) and Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister the Serial Killer), as well as internationally acclaimed authors Elif Shafak, Amin Maalouf and Lemn Sissay. Behavioural expert Thomas Erikson shared a stage with Sherif Arafa, and the Education Programme featured children’s favourites Ali Sparkes, Obada Takla, Sam Copeland, Isabel Thomas, Sanaa Chabbani, and Ben Baily Smith, AKA Doc Brown.

The aim of the Festival is to develop a culture of reading as an enjoyable habit in the UAE, and its efforts have been recognised through many awards over the years. By providing an equal platform for international and locally based talents, the Festival continues to build the literary landscape in the UAE and further afield. Alongside the main programme, the Festival organises an Education programme, reaching students across the seven emirates of the UAE. There are also student competitions, held in Arabic and English, which allow young people to showcase their skills through poetry, short stories and reading.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Festival is a key part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, which was established in 2013 by Royal Decree. In partnership with Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be back in 2022. For information and updates about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature visit the website: 

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