Dubai, UAE, 13 January 2020: The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (4-9 February) has today announced details of a ground-breaking venture with Dubai Police and the Penal and Correctional Institutions, along with other initiatives to mark the beginning of the countdown to the 2020 Festival. Tomorrow, I Will Fly, a book of essays written entirely by men and women in the Penal and Correctional Institutions in Dubai, will be launched at this year’s Festival. This is the culmination of a two-year collaboration with the Dubai Police and a year-long project with authors Clare Mackintosh and Annabel Kantaria. Also announced were details of a global conference for literary festival directors from around the world, to be hosted during the Festival, plus a 50 per cent increase in the number of free sessions to ensure that the Festival is financially accessible to all.

HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Emirates Literature Foundation, said: “Literature can be a lifeline, especially for those who need it the most. I am very proud of the difference we make in the lives of all the people we reach through our many projects.”

HE Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, said “The responsibility of the Dubai Police General HQ is significant and varied in terms of means to protect and care for human rights, and what we offer to the inmates at the penal and correctional institutions is an excellent opportunity to reflect the bright image of the state in this field.”

Major General Al Marri noted that the General Department for Punitive and Correctional Institutions is keen on providing all necessary means for the inmates to harness their skills and creative energy in the cultural fields, so they become involved in educational and training programs that contribute to their acquisition of writing skills and help them acquire decent job opportunities once they have completed their sentence. Thus, integrating them in the fabric of society as active and productive members who can depend on themselves and support their families.

“The cooperation between the Dubai Police and Emirates Literature Foundation comes within the framework of caring for inmates. The project, Tomorrow, I will fly is one of these means that support inmates and aim to organise visits for some international writers and residents in Dubai to the correctional institutions during which the writer communicates with the inmate through the language of writing and books”, the commander-in-chief of Dubai Police added.

‘’Words are extremely powerful tools. They can change people, and shape how we view the world and who we will become,” said Ahlam Bolooki, festival director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. “Tomorrow, I Will Fly” is a truly ground-breaking initiative for the UAE. It is humbling to be able to creatively support inmates in Dubai and through this project, make a difference to their lives.”

Tomorrow, I Will Fly stems from a long-term collaboration between the Emirates Literature Foundation, Dubai Police and The Punitive and Correctional Establishment, bringing Dubai-based and international authors to the institutions to talk to inmates about books and the process of writing. After visiting the Penal and Correctional Institutions in Dubai last year as part of this programme, the international best-selling writer Clare Mackintosh (I See You, Let Me Lie), and Dubai-based Annabel Kantaria (Coming Home, The One That Got Away), were inspired to help develop the initiative, which aims to let inmates find their voices and tell their stories. Support with creative writing can be transformative and produce life-long skills, reducing the risk of re-offending, as well as providing inmates with ways of processing their own experiences and emotions. Following a week of intense creative writing workshops with a group of male and female inmates, the resulting collection of essays and personal reflections, all on the topic of Tomorrow, were collated in an anthology.

The book will be launched on 6February at the Penal and Correctional Institutions in Dubai, enabling the writers involved to read their work aloud and celebrate their achievements among their peers, and at the Festival with a panel discussion featuring Clare Mackintosh, Annabel Kantaria, Lt. Colonel Jamila Khalifa Salem Alzaabi from the Women’s Penal and Correctional Institution and retired Major General Nasser Al Razooqi, who was responsible for the designs of the new Penal and Correctional Institutions. It will also be made available to other prisons in the UAE, the Arab World and further afield.

One of the inmates said: “Thanks a lot for everything, for taking time out of your busy schedule to come and awaken the writer in us and help us polish and refine the skill. It was an amazing and priceless experience.”

“The breadth of our activities is ever increasing and we always aim to show the difference literature and books can make to the world we live in,” said Ahlam Bolooki. “The International Literary Festivals’ Conference is another exciting development for us, demonstrating our position as one of the leading festivals internationally. The high-level directors attending the conference will gain a broader understanding of our country from a cultural perspective. It mirrors, in a present-day model, the time-honoured tradition of the majlis, gathering to discuss current events, recite poetry, tell stories, and reflect. We also hope that this programme will give Emirati writers the right exposure which could lead to them being invited to Literature Festivals around the world.”

It is expected that around 25 directors from festivals around the world will be converging on Dubai for the two-day conference, from as far afield as Brazil, Bali, New Zealand, Australia, the Caribbean, Africa, USA, Canada, China, Germany, Norway and the UK. The purpose is to exchange ideas, discuss mutual challenges and perhaps form alliances.  In addition to attending the conference, directors will go to sessions at the Festival, meet Emirati writers, and have an opportunity to engage with the flourishing culture in the UAE.

Badr Abbas, Emirates’ Senior Vice President Commercial Operations for Africa said: “We’re proud to support an event that places literature at the heart of its mission – offering unique opportunities for adults and children to interact with fresh voices, writers and storytellers. We welcome that the Festival is taking innovative steps to integrate more people into the discussion with the author-in residence- programme and new book. The conference of literary directors taking place during the festival is also a positive step forward in showcasing our home of Dubai, this wonderful event, and providing exposure to emerging Emirati talent and provide them the opportunities to share their ideas with their world. As a global airline, we value our long-term partnerships. Sustainable platforms such as this bring people of all backgrounds together and connect them through shared interests.”

The Festival has also expanded its range of free sessions for all visitors to enjoy, making it more accessible to all. The Festival Fringe and the Heritage Majlis will host author sessions, including husband-and-wife writers Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist with their first co-authored novel Two Steps Forward. There is also free comedy, poetry, fashion, cookery, book launches, insights into the world of publishing and literary agents and more. Audiences can join Ali Al Saloom for a question and answer session, take part in the Litfest quiz which will test the knowledge of the most ardent fans, be awed by the local spoken word artists brought together by The Poetryhood or take the younger members of the family to an interactive session with Magic Phil, one of Dubai’s best-known entertainers and a smash hit with all his young fans.

Since the Festival programme was announced, several new names have been added to the line up including one of the world’s greatest crime writers, Jo Nesbø; legendary ethologist Dr Jane Goodall; Mai Jia, arguably the most successful author in China today; and global superstar rodent and children’s favourite, Geronimo Stilton and his creator Elisabetta Dami.

Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture said that the Authority is proud to support the 12th edition of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. “It comes in line with the National Reading Strategy (2016-2026) which was launched by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, to nurture a generation who love and cherish reading as well as positioning Dubai as a global capital of culture, knowledge and learning.”

Badri added: “The festival plays an important role in achieving the vision of Dubai Culture and the goals of Dubai Plan 2021, which aims to make Dubai a city of happy and creative individuals, who are proud of their cultural identity and have a sense of belonging for their city.

“Dubai Culture has consistently supported the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature since its inception in 2009, due to its importance and contributions to the overall cultural scene. It is integral in strengthening Dubai’s position as a leading destination for regional and global cultural exchange. One of its main objectives is highlighting the value of reading across the UAE, which comes in line with Dubai’s new cultural vision, which seeks to activate a comprehensive cultural movement that encourages us all to invest in the richness of our culture. It is also part of our overall mandate to establish the UAE as a beacon of culture and knowledge as well as to strengthen Dubai’s position as a global centre of culture, an incubator of creativity and a thriving hub for talent.”

The packed Festival programme brings together the world’s leading authors, thinkers and opinion formers to find the answers to the big questions that occupy us all today. More main session events recently added to the Festival’s eclectic line up include the charity finale event – an extravaganza of music, poetry and readings in collaboration with Dubai Cares, in support of their programmes for child refugees across our region. There is also a special pre-festival event with celebrated ethologist Dr Jane Goodall, one of the world’s most prominent and active conservationists, back by popular demand, who will share her life’s work studying the apes of Gombe, and her educational project in the UAE: Roots & Shoots.

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.