Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 6 February 2020 – The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (4-9 February) today hosted the launch of a ground-breaking book featuring a collection of essays and stories written entirely by the inmates of Dubai’s penal and correctional institutions. Tomorrow, I Will Fly is the culmination of a year-long project by authors Clare Mackintosh and Annabel Kantaria, the first of its kind in the Arab World. The book was launched at the Festival with a panel discussion following an earlier launch on the same day within the Dubai Central Jail, where the writers involved read their work aloud to other inmates and celebrated their achievements.
“Writing can be an extremely effective way of processing thoughts, experiences and emotions, bringing long-term benefits for mental health, in turn reducing the risk of re-offending,” said Ahlam Bolooki, festival director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. “The results of this project could be potentially life-changing. We hope this ongoing initiative will continue to make a positive contribution to the outcomes for inmates in Dubai and elsewhere.”
Major Mohammed Al-Obaidly, Director of the Department of Training and Education of Inmates at Dubai Penal and Correctional Institutions, said that the book, which is the result of a community partnership between Dubai Police and the Emirates Literature Foundation, falls in line with the strategic objective of Dubai Police in ensuring the happiness of the community. “This cooperation reflects the keenness of Dubai Police to rehabilitate inmates and provide them with knowledge, science and skills of different aspects to help them start a new career, and extract creative energies within them in the intellectual and cultural fields.
Major Al-Obaidly affirmed that they are continuing the approach to providing inmates with various skills, opening new horizons for them to learn and participate in the sporting, scientific, cultural and social aspects, as well encouraging them to be active individuals and contributors to building and reviving the society.
Copies of the book will be made available to other prisons in the UAE, the Arab World and further afield, including prisons in the UK.
During the book launch at the Festival, both authors shared their experiences as Writers-in-Residence within the prisons. Also at the event was Lt. Colonel Jamila Al Zaabi, director of Dubai Women’s Prison, and retired Major General Nasser Al Razooqi, one of Dubai’s very first police officers, who discussed the project’s positive impact on inmates’ rehabilitation and the need to share worldwide best practice to reach the most successful outcomes.
The project, called ‘From the Inside Out’, stems from a long-term collaboration with the Emirates Literature Foundation, supported by Dubai Police and Dubai Central Jail, which organises visits from Dubai-based and international authors to talk to inmates about books and the process of writing. After visiting the prison 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), saw an opportunity to develop the initiative and help the prisoners find their voices and tell their stories. Following a week of intense creative writing workshops with a group of male and female inmates, the resulting collection of essays and personal reflections were collated in the anthology.
The session is just one event in the packed Festival programme which brings together the world’s leading authors, thinkers and opinion formers to find the answers to the big questions that occupy us all today. Highlights 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 the region.
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