As it’s time to ring out the old and bring in the new, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is announcing a special range of sessions and masterclasses designed to help people reach their goals. Whether seeking to change the world or their career, find a better way to live, harness creativity, start a business or write a bestseller, people from all over Dubai are able to find the inspiration and practical guidance they need at the Festival (4-9 February) to make New Year’s resolutions stick.
Research suggests that the most popular resolutions include being healthier and exercising more, saving money, changing jobs, and taking up hobbies.
Vegan internet sensation Bosh! answers the call of anyone looking to live a healthier life while minimising their impact on the environment. Popular broadcaster and environmentalist Kate Humble advocates the simple act of walking to enhance health and happiness, and is guaranteed to inspire a better way of life.
The pressures of life are put into perspective by TV presenter, cook and bestselling author Nadiya Hussain as she considers her roles as mother, Muslim, working woman and celebrity. She questions the barriers which many women must cross to be accepted or heard, in a warm, honest and humorous way and highlights how, at the core, all humans are essentially tackling the same issues despite our cultural, social and religious differences.
Gelong Thubten offers advice on how to deal with stress and guides our search for happiness, showing us the meaning of mindfulness. A Tibetan Buddhist monk, he traded life as an actor 25 years ago to become ordained and now teaches mindfulness meditation in busy hospitals, schools and companies such as Google, and to celebrities including Ruby Wax, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton. Thubten also joins our panel of high-profile writers who investigate how we can gain from understanding the spiritual side of life, with Lesley Hazleton, an award-winning journalist, historian, blogger and author of The First Muslim; Mitch Albom, internationally bestselling author, screenwriter, playwright and award-winning journalist, and Omar Saif Ghobash, the Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs, and author of the acclaimed Letters to a Young Muslim.
Inspiration on how individuals can help fix their world also comes from Edna Adan Ismail and Dr Sanduk Ruit. Surviving imprisonment, persecution, and civil war, Edna Adan Ismail was Somaliland’s first midwife, campaigning tirelessly for better healthcare for women. At 82 years old, she still runs what is hailed as the Horn of Africa’s finest university hospital and has been dubbed “The Muslim Mother Teresa”. Known as the “Nepalese God of Sight”, Dr Ruit chose to defy the world’s medical establishment and the lure of riches to make the world a better place by restoring vision to hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest and most isolated people.
New ways of working
Those seeking changes in their careers in 2020 can find sage advice and actionable guidance at the festival. The Apprentice Asia winner, motivational expert and bestselling business author Jonathan Yabut will share how to transform careers by adopting the idea of Ikigai, the Japanese concept referring to “the thing that you live for” leading to a life that is both more fulfilling and more rewarding. He will also level up presentation skills with his masterclass, showing how to communicate more effectively both privately and in business.
Fast-paced changes to the workplace are explored in the The Possibilities Project; the ultimate handbook for self-discovery, independence and success for young people. This session brings together knowledge from communication educator and award-winning radio/TV presenter and speaker Anna Al Qasimi-Roberts, journalist, writer and Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East Aby Sam Thomas and entrepreneur, CTO and Forbes 30 Under 30 Mashal Waqar, chaired by workplace culture expert Dawn Metcalfe.
The people who survive in a highly competitive, fast-paced and changing work environment are not those with muscles or brains, but those who can lead, inspire and encourage innovation. Emirati writer and change management expert Khalid Al Hosani will share his insights, and explore the different career options that best suit different skills and passions in a workshop with professional development series guru, Maryam Al Balooshi.
Khalifa Almherzi will show how to improve emotional intelligence to effectively analyse emotions, adopting the behaviours required to build successful strategies in work and life. Negotiation and persuasion skills are invaluable in the workplace, and Amel Alali’s workshop gives insight into “diplomatic” methods to help tackle those hard conversations. Body language is also crucial in negotiations, accounting for 55% of first impressions. Body language experts Mohammed Eisa Al Hammadi, a psychologist from the General Department of Forensic Science & Criminology, and Mohammad Sulaiman Al Dhawyani, the Head of Forensic Psychology in Dubai Police, will share their experience to help identify common language in global gestures and body movements.
The secrets of feng shui can be harnessed to achieve success with Grace E Salem’s masterclass on bringing balance to the workplace. Grace has advised hundreds of clients – individuals and businesses – throughout the Arab world on improving their living and work spaces in order to reach their full potential.
Writing to Succeed
This year the LitFest has a multitude of workshops for aspiring writers, whether its fiction, biography, journalism, poetry, screenwriting or song.
Writing advice for gripping crime fiction is on offer from bestseller Linwood Barclay. Acclaimed author and writing teacher Greg Mosse has the inside scoop on how to make a novel daft pitch perfect. There are also workshops on creative writing, editing and pitching to agents with literary agent Luigi Bonomi and editor Alison K Williams. Authors Annabel Kantaria and Jessica Jarlvi will cover the writing technique and give editing tips to help attendees produce a polished manuscript.
Advice on how to capture the essence of a person in writing is on offer from biographer, ghost writer and novelist Wendy Holden. Award-winning author Tamsin Winter will share the secret to writing for young teenagers, explaining how to channel the inner “tweenager”. Emerging writers can also learn about writing historical fiction from Rehan Khan, or the secrets of successful short story-writing from Christina Dalcher, a self-confessed flash fiction addict.
Journalistic skills are on offer in a workshop with Joshua Raven, using his 5fingers novels as a starting point, while journalist and award-winning novelist Stuart Turton will give the scoop on travel writing in the age of cheap travel and Instagram.
For anyone wanting to learn to write lyrics, to take their song-writing craft to the next level, there is an interactive workshop with award-winning jazz musician and songwriter Chris Read, while slam poetry champion Harry Baker explains how to write and perform poems that will make an impact on the audience. Award-winning poet Eleanor Hooker will show how to make every word count in a workshop where participants are invited to bring a poem they are working on (no more than 40 lines) to discuss and work on in writing and editing exercises.
Adapting a novel for film is not a simple task, but novelist, producer and script-writer Daniela Tully will share the particular challenges and opportunities of screen adaptations, giving an overview of the different steps and skills required to succeed. Anyone wanting to turn their blog into a book would benefit from a masterclass with Sara Sadik, inspired by her own experiences.
Writing in Arabic
Nominated for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) many times, Inaam Kachachi will lead a one-day workshop focusing on realism in fiction, using creative writing exercises to explore the Arabic language in depth. The art of successful story-writing is on offer from Fatima Sharafeddine, who will cover structure and timeline, and show how to create the characters, develop the plot, reveal the evidence and reach a thrilling conclusion. Tareq Imam explains how to avoid the common mistakes in short-story-writing and how to use personal experience skilfully and effectively. Science Fiction in the Arab world will be explored in a workshop with Yasser M Bahjatt, who will show participants how to develop the plot and events of their novel to engage readers and transport them smoothly into the future or the past. Abdelillah Benarafa will help create unforgettable historical characters that feel real, while writer Maria Dadouch will show how to make the writing witty. Writing for children is tackled by Amal Farah, who has received several awards, including the UNESCO International Prize for children’s literature. The art of illustrating books for children is taught by master illustrator Raouf Karray who designs, illustrates and produces children’s books in Tunisia, Europe and the Arab world.
The Festival is held with Founding Partners Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.
To buy tickets and for the full list of authors, visit http://www.emirateslitfest.com/shop
More information about the Emirates Literature Foundation can be found online and year-round news about #EmiratesLitFest is available on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.