Inclusive and sustainable literary programming

United Arab Emirates
Emirates Literature Foundation
This measure was reported by civil society.
Describe the main features of the measure/initiative: 
The Emirates Literature Foundation (ELF) is proud of its diverse programming for the Airline Festival of Literature, providing a melting pot of ideas and knowledge for all aspects of life, and putting the spotlight on the world’s most pressing issues. Discussions Leading authors, thinkers and opinion formers discuss subjects such as ‘How can we save the planet?’ and ‘How can we argue with a racist?’. ELF does not impose any restrictions on authors. Frank discussions are encouraged through panel discussions, on the understanding that everyone is free to disagree amicably. Many sessions in 2020 explored the topics of sustainability, spirituality and kindness to self and others and a host of powerful panel sessions enhanced cross-cultural understanding and appreciation of a variety of subjects. The Faith in the Modern World panel investigated what we gain from understanding the spiritual side of life and included Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten, award-winning journalist, historian, blogger and author of The First Muslim, Lesley Hazleton, internationally bestselling author, screenwriter, playwright and award-winning journalist, Mitch Albom and HE Omar Saif Ghobash (Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs) author of the acclaimed Letters to a Young Muslim. Lesley Hazleton also gave a lecture at Zayed University. The program always features inspiring women speakers, this year welcoming Edna Adan Ismail, Foreign Minister of Somaliland from 2003 to 2006, director and founder of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa and an activist and pioneer in the struggle for the abolition of female genital mutilation and also Onjali Q Raúf , Founder and CEO of Making Herstory, a human rights organization working to end trafficking and enslavement of women. Publications Tomorrow I Will Fly, a ground-breaking book featuring a collection of essays and stories written entirely by the inmates of Dubai’s penal and correctional institutions, was published, the culmination of the year-long project ‘From the Inside Out’ with authors Clare Mackintosh and Annabel Kantaria. The project, the first of its kind in the Arab World, stems from a long-term collaboration with the Emirates Literature Foundation, supported by Dubai Police and Dubai Central Jail, which organises visits from Dubai-based and international authors to talk to inmates about books and the process of writing. Following a week of intense creative writing workshops with a group of male and female inmates led by the two authors, the resulting collection of essays and personal reflections were collated in the anthology, enabling the prisoners to find their voices and tell their stories. Copies of the book were made available to other prisons in the UAE, the Arab World and further afield, including prisons in the UK. A series of thirty beautiful children’s books by young Emirati authors on the theme of tolerance were published in both Arabic and English, the result of a joint project between the Emirates Literature Foundation and the Ministry of Tolerance. The young writers and illustrators interpreted the theme of tolerance in a myriad of ways; from drawing on folklore in the form of djinn to the rise of the modern country that is the UAE; and to the effects of materialism on friendships. The books were distributed to libraries, schools and cultural centers across the UAE and internationally as part of a new Foundation initiative. The Festival’s determination that it is accessible to all, and that language should not be a barrier, is always at the fore. The multi-national audiences at the Festival are a true reflection of society in the UAE. Simultaneous translation between Arabic and English in most sessions removes language barriers and ensures they can be enjoyed by all. Other languages are included as appropriate. Some sessions are also signed, so those with a hearing impairment can fully access the session. Many sessions are free, or with ticket prices kept low so cost is not a barrier, and most sessions for schools are free. Voices of Future Generations, the inspiring global writing competition for young people, was created to promote sustainability awareness and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The competition, for children aged 8 to 12, encourages stories about characters overcoming sustainability challenges and creating a more tolerant world.
What are the results achieved so far through the implementation of the measure/initiative?: 
• The Emirates LitFest program aims to reach all. The Arabic language program is growing year on year in breadth, session numbers and popularity. In 2020, there was a 29% increase in the number of Arabic authors on the previous year. • Almost 100,000 students engaged with the Festival through competitions, attending events, or the live-streamed program. • There is continued growth in visitor numbers at the Festival and engagement with the Foundation’s initiatives. In 2020, the number of visitors was over 43,000, • In its first year Voices of Future Generations has attracted more than 1,700 registrations from 98 schools across the seven Emirates. • Tomorrow I Will Fly, the ground-breaking book featuring a collection of essays and stories written entirely by the inmates of Dubai’s penal and correctional institutions, has been published as a book and an ebook by the Emirates Literature Foundation. • The series of 30 Tolerance books by young Emirati authors was published earlier this year, and is also now available in a digital format.