Dubai, 9 March, 2016: A glittering evening of performance, literature and music concluded last night at the eighth annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Wahat Al Zaman, which translates to an Oasis in Time, was the Festival’s first special event of the year and a memorable celebration of the Year of Reading. The gala evening was sponsored by the Festival’s partner Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated Authority for heritage, arts, and culture.
His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan and Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum attended the special event.
The Festival Children’s Choir performed the UAE National Anthem followed by the debut performance of the Festival Anthem, ‘Time’. The keynote address was given by His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.
A number of literary stars took to the stage including new James Bond author Anthony Horowitz, The Kumars at No. 42 star Meera Syal, My Family actor Robert Lindsay, Emirati author Reem Al Kamali and Ali Abu Al Reesh, one of the UAE’s most prolific writers as well as Abdulla Ali Hassan, the youngest Emirati author. UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, performed her poetry to music played by John Sampson and astronaut Chris Hadfield gave the final speech of the evening.
The evening was dedicated to the late Sir Maurice Flanagan, Former Executive Vice Chairman of Emirates Airline, Co-Founder of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation. Sir Maurice was a poet and a writer, and in honour of his support for the Festival, was posthumously awarded the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2016 Personality of the Year Award. The award was presented by His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan and Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, Vice Chairman, Emirates Literature Foundation, Honourary Chairman of the Zayed University Alumni Association Board and accepted by Sir Maurice’s family. His son, Julian Flanagan, recited one of his father’s poems in remembrance.
CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Isobel Abulhoul spoke about the impact Sir Maurice had on the Festival: ‘The loss of Sir Maurice Flanagan was felt greatly by all who knew him, but he leaves behind so many brilliant legacies – the Festival being one of them. Sir Maurice was not just a mentor and supporter of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, without him there would have been no Festival. He had a vision and his unwavering dedication to it is the reason why the Festival has become such a globally successful event.
‘I cannot think of anyone this year who could be more worthy of this award, which recognises an individual’s contribution towards fostering literacy, education and love of literature in all its forms. I just wish he were here to receive it.’
The Festival continues till 12 March and is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai and in partnership with title sponsor Emirates and partner Dubai Culture, the Emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, arts, and heritage.
More than 250 sessions remain in the international segment of the Festival, including the Literary Cruise, Time Travel Dinner, Desert Stanzas and a number of panels and workshops conducted by award-winning authors from around the world. Ticket prices start at AED 50 and can be purchased via the Festival website (https://tickets.litfest-archives.com/2017/) or at select WHSmith stores across the UAE.
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