Emirates LitFest Personality of the Year: Ousha bint Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Suwaidi
Poet Ousha bint Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Suwaidi, pioneering Emirati women’s poet, dubbed “Girl of the Arabs” by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, today received the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2014 Personality of the Year award. Dr. Rafia Ghubash, founder of the Women’s Museum, UAE, and Al Suwaidi’s biographer, accepted the award on her behalf from Festival Director Isobel Abulhoul at a ceremony held this afternoon.
Ousha bint Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Suwaidi said of the honour, “It is truly humbling to be awarded for doing something I love and I would like to thank the Festival for this honour. Literature has always been a part of my life but it was poetry that gave me the opportunity to express myself fully. I have seen the power of poetry transform and develop people, society and nations. When I began, I was one of the rare women who recited and wrote poems; but slowly and steadily more women joined me and we became a movement, then an important part of the UAE’s literary culture. Now, one cannot imagine Arabic literature without women poets. This is the legacy I am most proud of.”
Isobel Abulhoul said on the occasion: “We are delighted to present this honour to the legend Ousha bint Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Suwaidi. Not only does she have an awe-inspiring body of work behind her but she has also been instrumental in revolutionising women’s writing in the country. It is befitting that she should be awarded on International Women’s Day.”
Ousha bint Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Suwaidi began reciting poetry when she was 15 and soon started writing poems herself on a variety of subjects including wisdom, patriotism and love. Most of her poems are written in classical Arabic and draw on her surroundings and the local environment.
Al Suwaidi gained recognition from the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who commended her for her work in highlighting the Emirates and the local language through her poems. Later in her career, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum conducted a series of poetry recitals with her and Dr. Rafia Ghubash’s Women’s Museum has an entire floor dedicated to her work. Her most famous national poem and the very last poem written by her are also stored in the museum.
The Personality of the Year Award is given annually ‘in recognition of a major contribution toward fostering literacy, education and love of literature in all its forms.’ Last year it was awarded to Her Excellency Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and CEO of Kalimat publishing house. The award was previously given to HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, Chairman of Emirates Airline and leading businessman and humanitarian, Juma Al Majid.
The Festival is taking place in Dubai from 4 to 8 March 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 Emirates and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, arts, and heritage. The Festival is now part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, which was established last year by Royal decree.
Tickets for the Festival are available on-line at emirateslitfest.com and also at Festival Bookseller WHSmith’s selected outlets in Dubai Mall (lower-ground floor), Oasis Centre Mall, Marina Mall in Dubai and Al Wahda Mall, Abu Dhabi. Ticket prices start at AED45 and there are also many events and activities on offer free of charge.
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Note to editors:
About the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature:
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together with authors from across the world to promote education, debate and above all else, love of reading and writing.
The Festival creates a wonderful opportunity for UAE nationals, residents and visitors to meet world famous authors, attend literary debates, listen to readings, participate in workshops and experience the exciting fringe and children’s events. Writing competitions and an inter-school quiz are amongst the educational highlights, and young people also have the chance to hear and meet some of their favourite writers. With simultaneous translation between Arabic and English for select sessions, the Festival is a meeting of minds where ideas are shared and friendships are formed – not least among the authors themselves.
The 2014 Festival which has become an eagerly anticipated annual event will welcome more than 120 writers, thinkers and speakers from 25 countries. It is expected that 30,000+ visitors will attend the Festival which will have over 200 one-off sessions and unique events to be experienced and enjoyed in a programme that has been designed for wide appeal, with something to suit every taste.
The 2014 Festival will be held March 4-8, 2014 at The Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City 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 Emirates and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, arts, and heritage.
The LitFest also hosts a regular series of literary events during the winter months (October-April) at its home – Dar Al Adaab (House of Literature) in Al Fahidi Historic Area under the banner The Open Door Series presented by Costa Coffee.
For all information and updates about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature visit the website: www.emirateslitfest.com.
Emirates, a global connector of people, places and passions, has over 200 aircraft and flies to140 destinations.
In 2013, Emirates has launched flights to Warsaw, Algiers, Tokyo Haneda, Stockholm, Clark International in the Philippines and between Milan and New York, Conakry in Guinea, Sialkot in Pakistan, and Kabul. In the coming months, new services will start to Kiev, Taipei and Boston.
Emirates operates the world’s largest fleet of A380s. The airline’s A380 superiority was underlined earlier this year with the opening in Dubai of Concourse A, the world’s first purpose-built A380 concourse.
Amongst its hundreds of international accolades, the airline picked up the Skytrax ‘World’s Best Airline’ 2013 award.
About Dubai Culture & Arts Authority:
The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) was launched on March 8, 2008 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Dubai Culture plays a critical part in achieving the vision of the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 of establishing the city as vibrant, global Arabian metropolis that shapes culture and arts in the region and the world.
The organisation has announced several initiatives that strengthen the historic and modern cultural fabric of Dubai. These include: The Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons of the Arts Awards:The first of its kind initiative in the Arab world honouring individuals and organisations who have made financial or in kind contributions through sustained support to visual arts, performing arts, literature and film in the region; Sikka Art Fair: An annual art fair aimed at promoting Emirati and local artists in the UAE; and Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre: An annual festival that celebrates and fosters the art of theatre in the UAE.