Isobel Abulhoul, Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, was conferred the Distinguished Culture Award at the 21st Al Owais Creative Award, held on June 22nd at the Cultural and Scientific Association. The bi-annual award recognises Arab writers and intellectuals for literary works and criticism that reflect Arab thought. Abulhoul was honoured for her service to Arab culture through her work with Magrudy’s, the bookshop chain she co-founded in 1975, and with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which recently won the Best Festival Award for the second time at the Middle East Event Awards.
Abulhoul, who first came to Dubai in 1968, published several children’s books in Arabic and English and, with the support of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation, initiated Bustan Al Qusas, a new reading and teaching programme which helped teachers write and use their own stories as teaching aids.
In 2008, Abulhoul founded the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word. The Festival has grown from strength to strength with each year, bringing together people of all nationalities and ages to promote education, debate and a culture of reading. The Festival has also launched the careers of aspiring writers through competitions, workshops and masterclasses with some of the world’s best authors and literary agents.
For years, Abulhoul had endeavoured to establish a literature foundation, a dream that came true in 2013 when HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and also the festival patron, issued a Decree forming the Emirates Literature Foundation, and named Abulhoul as one of the trustees on the Board.
Abulhoul’s work to promote literacy and Arab culture has seen her being awarded the Cultural Personality of the Year by Dr. HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah in 2010, an OBE by HM Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain in 2012 and Cultural Icon of UAE by The 3rd Petrochem GR8! Women Awards-Middle East 2013.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which is part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, will take place in Dubai from 3 to 7 March 2015 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. For more details of the Festival please see www.emirateslitfest.com
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