Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2012 opens with spectacular display of words, poetry, song and dance

Tuesday, 6 March, 2012

Guests at today’s Opening Ceremony for the fourth annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2012 were treated to a breathtaking display of readings, poetry, song and dance at the spectacular theatre that is part of Cultural & Scientific Association at Al Mamzar. A cast which numbered close to 500 performers took to the stage including the Emirates Airline Choir, the Combined Primary School Choirs of Dubai, and some of the Festival’s most popular writers, including Mourid Barghouti, David Nicholls and Kate Adie.

The capacity audience was filled with senior Government officials, diplomats, representatives from major businesses and educational institutions, and leading lights from the local cultural scene as well as many of the other 120 authors who are participating in this year’s Festival.

'I am so delighted to welcome everyone here today. What a fantastic way to launch the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2012. We have five amazing days ahead of us and I for one can’t wait to start enjoying it all,' said Isobel Abulhoul, Festival Director.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2012 is held in Dubai between 6-10 March 2012 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 Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, arts, and heritage.

Guests were greeted on their arrival by Youla dancers, in recognition of the themes of heritage and identity running through this year’s Festival. Amidst the splendor of priceless Persian carpets and beautiful fountains in the Al Mamzar theatre complex , the performance began with flag-carrying Scouts paying tribute to the 30 home countries of this year’s participating authors. The boys and girls were dressed in costumes of all the represented countries in this truly Olympic moment.

The themes of identity, heritage and multi-culturalism ran through the entire show. Among many other entertainments, the audience was treated to dance from UAE, Philippines and India, a film about heritage and national culture, a reflection from British Kate Adie, poetry reading by Palestinian giant Mourid Barghouthi and a brief talk by Polish arish expert Sandra Piesik.

Charles Dickens was honoured with a reading from Great Expectations in Arabic by Emirati actor Ebrahim Ustadi .He was joined by top selling British author, David Nicholls, who has recently completed a new screen version of the English classic on the occasion of the 200th of the birth of the great novelist and social commentator. The Emirates Airline Festival Choir also sang ‘Who Will Buy this Wonderful Morning’ from the musical Oliver Twist.

The Opening Ceremony was brought to a rousing close with the first public performance of this year’s Festival anthem; 'Al Bab Al Maftouh' ('The Open Door').The anthem was composed by Yousef Khan with the assistance of Salem Belyouha and was performed by local primary school students who make up the Combined Primary School Choirs of Dubai. This choir of 400 Emirati and expat children, were provided by five schools that come under the umbrella of MAG (Madares al Gad) a segment of Ministry of Education and other schools in Dubai. All the children looked extra special with the boys dressed in white kandooras, and the girls in bright printed jalabiyas.

Abulhoul concluded by thanking Emirates Airline and Dubai Culture for their partnership as well as all the other partners, sponsors and friends who have made the Festival possible.

'In only four years together we have built the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature into one of the world’s significant literary festivals. We are welcoming a power-house of talent from around the globe here today. And we are also seeing more and more talent emerging from Dubai itself too,' she said. 'Our 2012 roster of Emirati and Arab world writers and speakers is formidable and we must all feel proud of this. We are also delighted with the ever increasing participation from students - who are of course our talent of tomorrow'.

'Emirates is an ardent supporter of the Arts and we are committed to the development of Dubai as a centre for cultural events' said Sir Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice Chairman, Emirates Airline &Group. 'As an airline which already connects people to more than 120 destinations, we look forward to this week where we can connect people to new ideas, concepts and cultures through the power of the written word.'

Saeed Al Nabouda, Acting Director General of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said: 'The spectacular opening ceremony of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature this year shows a true collaboration between culture and literature. The Authority is committed to underscoring the multicultural diversity of the city of Dubai and its various cultural expressions. We are honoured to welcome some of the world’s foremost authors who will engage audiences in a wide range of educational and literary sessions that will spearhead the growth and evolution of the Festival, driving Dubai’s literary scene further.'

This was the first of two major events for the Opening of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature today. The evening will see the special Opening Night spectacular starring television and radio supremo Sir Terry Wogan live on stage at Al Mamzar. Sir Terry will be joined by a line-up of today’s most celebrated international poets Imtiaz Dharker, John Agard, Yang Lian and Daljit Nagra.

From tomorrow, Wednesday 7 March through Saturday 10 March the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will take place at the Intercontinental Hotel Dubai Festival City. All details online at www.emirateslitfest.com.


For more information please contact:

Christina Bruce, Head of Communications, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
Christina.bruce@emirateslitfest.com +9714 353 4002/ 050 650 7251

Mohammed Barghuthi, Communications Manager, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
Mohammed.barghouthi@emirateslitfest.com +9714 353 4002

Taghreed Oraibi, Ketchum Raad Middle East, 050 7943528

About Emirates

Emirates is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world and has received more than 500 international awards for excellence. Emirates now fly to over 120 destinations in 72 countries. Emirates operates over 172 wide-body Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and has orders for an additional 233 aircraft, worth more than USD$84 billion.

For more information about Emirates please contact:

Virginia Kennedy, Corporate Communications, Emirates Group.
virginia.kennedy@emirates.com Tel office: (+9714) 708 2039, Mobile: (+97156) 684 8811

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.
Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre: An annual festival that celebrates and fosters the art of theatre in the UAE.
Dubai Next: To encourage and sponsor initiatives that contribute actively to the development of the cultural events and activities in Dubai. Recently, Dubai Culture showcased Dubai's aspirations in culture to an international audience at one of the world's most prestigious platforms, the Art Basel 39 art fair.
The Holy Lands: A collaboration with the unique and creatively rich Reiss Engelhorn Museen of Mannheim to bring an exclusive collection of never before exhibited rare photographs to the region and more specifically Dubai.

For more information about Dubai Culture & Arts Authority please contact:
Nivine William / Divya Khanna, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, +9714 4507600, n.william@asdaa.com/ d.khanna@asdaa.com

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