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For more than three decades, the HAY Literary Festival in the United Kingdom has been a delight for bibliophiles around the world. Next February, the Literary Festival chose the United Arab Emirates to take root for four days.
After an edition in Lebanon, one of the biggest literary festivals created in 1988 comes back to the Arab world. At a recent press conference attended by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance of the United Arab Emirates and Hay Festival Directors Peter Florence and Cristina Fuentes, it was announced that the Hay Festival would be held in Abu Dhabi from 24 to 27 February 2020.
Established for more than three decades in the United Kingdom, and having gained a certain international dimension, the Hay Festival will be held in the coming months in various host cities such as Segovia in Spain, Arequipa in Peru and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
“Your extraordinary investment in this country and your intellectual curiosity, the construction of three stone universities, is very moving and extremely inspiring… We are here to celebrate diversity and plurality, yes, but also this extraordinary golden age for Arab literature” – Peter Florence, Director of the Hay Festival.
This year, the Hay Abu Dhabi Festival will welcome internationally renowned authors and thinkers, such as Nobel Prize laureates Ahmed Galai and Shirin Ebadi, Lebanese novelist Hoda Barakat, winner of the 2019 International Prize for Arab Fiction, and writers Adonis and Jokha Alharthi. Various voices will also come to tell stories, share poems or slams, highlighting the UAE culture.
The Hay Festival and the Arab literary world
In recent years, many Arab literary artists have visited the Hay Festival, diversifying the list of participating authors. This year, the Turkish writer Elif Shafak, the Emirian poet Nujoom Alghanem, the Omani writer Jokha Alharthi and the Moroccan writer Leila Slimani were among the authors who spoke at the festival.
With Abu Dhabi as the host city of the festival, the organizers hope to reach a wider audience and offer greater visibility to Arab writers, some of whom this year received great awards from the literary world.