Abu Dhabi, UAE – The 33rd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF 2024), which recently concluded its activities in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, celebrated the rich cultural legacy of renowned Egyptian author and novelist Naguib Mahfouz, the first Arab writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Mahfouz was selected as the Focus Personality of the 2024 Fair, which dedicated a comprehensive and diverse programme to showcase his achievements and highlight their impact on enriching thought and knowledge in the Arab region and around the world.

The programme dedicated to the Focus Personality provided a space to delve into the rich and creative world of this figure, uncovering its secrets and origins, and examining his works through study, appreciation, and analysis. It also offered an in-depth and critical reading that highlighted his influence on various aspects of culture and other arts. Moreover, the programme provided a rare opportunity to engage with Mahfouz’s personality and discover its essence, particularly by offering audiovisual tools, and organising seminars and critical sessions that painted an inspiring and comprehensive portrait of the life and works of Naguib Mahfouz.

The Focus Personality programme was distributed across the activities and events of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, covering the most prominent aspects of Naguib Mahfouz’s life and career. A dedicated pavilion showcased his most notable achievements, offering visitors an immersive experience to explore his life and the worlds he created, underlining his literary and human influence. Additionally, the agenda included daily sessions as part of the ADIBF Cultural Programme.

With the Focus Personality programme, the Fair sought to highlight the clear contributions of author and novelist Naguib Mahfouz, whose works have shaped the consciousness of an entire generation and played a part in advancing the status of the Arabic language.

This year’s Focus Personality programme explored diverse themes in a series of sessions hosting accomplished authors, thinkers, and artists from various parts of the Arab world, who showcased Mahfouz’s timeless impact. Notable activities included a session titled ‘Naguib Mahfouz: A Mirror of History and Society’, which discussed his works from a sociological and historical perspective; a session on ‘Naguib Mahfouz: Beginnings and Endings’ that shed light on Mahfouz’s early and later works; a session titled ‘Companions of Naguib Mahfouz’, which hosted figures close to Naguib Mahfouz to discuss their memories with him; and a session on ‘Naguib Mahfouz and Criticism’ that explored his relationship with this art and the most important trends and currents that have addressed his literature.

The Cultural Programme also included a session titled ‘Naguib Mahfouz: The Legacy Lives On’ that shed light on the most important possessions, documents, and museums related to the author, as well as a roundtable discussion titled ‘Naguib Mahfouz in the Eyes of the World’, which addressed the translation of his works into different world languages.

Meanwhile, the session titled ‘Grandchildren of Naguib Mahfouz and the New Novel’ explored the author’s influence on the new generations of Arab novelists, and the session ‘Melodies of Naguib Mahfouz’ delved into the music and songs in films adapted from his novels, as well as the impact of music on his life. Moreover, the session ‘Naguib Mahfouz on Screen’ discussed his works in cinema, while ‘Naguib Mahfouz as an Inspiration’ showcased artistic works inspired by the world of Naguib Mahfouz, and ‘Naguib Mahfouz’s Novels in a Fresh Light: Launching Illustrated Novels of Naguib Mahfouz’ introduced illustrated novels of the late author, published for the first time at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2024.

As part of the Focus Personality programme, the 33rd ADIBF dedicated a 120-square-metre pavilion to Naguib Mahfouz, showcasing his life and achievements through audio-visual mediums. Inspired by the Egyptian neighbourhood portrayed in Mahfouz’s works, the pavilion highlighted the author’s most prominent novels and presented a distinguished collection of photographs, including behind-the-scenes images from films adapted from his novels. It also displayed a collection of Mahfouz’s signed memorabilia and rare copies of first editions of his novel ‘Children of Gebelawi’.

Furthermore, ADIBF 2024 hosted a special mural depicting the historical Pharaonic works of Naguib Mahfouz by graffiti artist Ahmed Noufal. Additionally, and for the second consecutive year, the Fair organised a school competition featuring works about the Focus Personality, where the winning schools were honoured during the event.