Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the 2017 Festival?
I am most looking forward to seeing Nadiya Hussein – not because she is a brilliant baker but I love how she presents her Islamic faith in a way that is deeply personal and attractive. She has resolved the tension of being British with being a devout Muslim and that in my mind, makes her an important role model. I also respect how she deals with the nasty Islamaphobic behaviour she encounters and how she does it with such grace, honesty and panache.
Which book has inspired you the most?
I love reading and over the years I have read hundreds of books. The one book which keeps me grounded as a minister in the church is obviously the Bible, a book which as yet is not widely available in the shops in the UAE. I read a lot of non-fiction, especially histories and biographies and fiction. I was inspired by C.S. Lewis’ writings, especially the Chronicles of Narnia. I read a lot of theology too, both Islamic and Christian. On the lighter side I enjoy reading Tom Clancy and John Grisham novels.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
The first thing I do in the morning is wake up my daughter to get her ready for school and then before starting work I say prayers with my church team.
What is your life’s motto?
Every year I seem to get a Bible verse that becomes my motto for that 12 months. This year it has been “Blessed are the peacemakers – they will be called children of God”. I ask myself how can I be a person of peace. This seems so important to me, especially in the context of violent sectarianism in the Middle East and the rise of far right political parties and Islamophobia in the West.
Our theme for the 2017 Festival is Journeys. Can you tell us which journeys in your life have been most memorable?
I have travelled a lot over the years to many wonderful places, but the most important journey for me is the inner one of seeking to understand myself, grow in my faith, gain a deeper appreciation of the world we live in and trying to find out what is my place in it.