Al Ain, UAE:– Qasr Al Muwaiji – one of the key locations of Al Ain Book Festival 2023, organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) – hosted a panel discussion that explored the Centre’s vision, role, and strategy to evolve the concept of book fairs in the UAE, turning them into festivals with an array of activities and programmes that promote creativity and present a modern blend of culture, arts, and knowledge that meets the audience’s aspirations.

The panel discussion kicked off with a visual presentation of the key events on the agenda for this year’s edition of the festival. Visual artist Ghayath Mahmoud presented a live drawing show, where he sketched a portrait of late poet Kemaidesh bin Naaman Alkaabi, featured in the opening evening of the ‘Poetry Nights: The Sung Poetry’ event.

Foundation and ambition

During the panel discussion, His Excellency Saeed Hamdan Al Tunaiji, Executive Director of the ALC, walked the audience through the various stages of establishing the Centre, which he described as an ambitious strategic project that strives to advance the status of both the Arabic language and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi on the local and global stage.

“The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre aims to develop and promote the Arabic language in educational, cultural, and creative sectors, in addition to encouraging its use in scientific and creative circles,” H.E. added. “Moreover, the Centre plays a vital role in promoting Arabic on the international stage as a literary and intellectual language, by launching pioneering projects that embrace technology to position Arabic as the language of the present day, on par with its ever-changing dynamics.”

H.E. Al Tunaiji highlighted the ALC’s series of awards, including Kanz Al Jeel, which draws its name from one of the poems of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the UAE, and is set to honour the winners of its second edition during this year’s festival in Al Ain – a city that enjoys a close connection to poetry and literature. Moreover, H.E. shed light on the Golden Narrative (Sard Al Thahab) Award, which will be honouring the winners of its first edition during the upcoming Al Dhafra Book Festival 2023 in December.

Content development

H.E. the ALC Executive Director stressed that the book industry cannot develop without improving content and book fairs, noting that this notion is what inspired the ALC to turn its book fairs into festivals dedicated to the book industry, showcasing creative, musical, and artistic content. And this, ultimately, played a major role in the success of the Al Ain and Al Dhafra Book Festivals.

“This transformation caught the attention of experts and the public alike,” H.E. Al Tunaiji asserted. “It has also been praised by writers and publishers who appreciated the outstanding experiences brought on by transforming book fairs into festivals that combine art, culture, and literature, targeting talented youth in order to highlight their works and bring them closer to the public.”