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UAE Reads with Emirates Literature Foundation for the 2023 Month of Reading

by Leah

The Emirates Literature Foundation is celebrating the UAE’s Month of Reading with several far-reaching initiatives offering literary experiences for all ages. In celebration of the 10 years since the Foundation was established, it has created a programme of literary activities for a range of audiences.  

Isobel Abulhoul OBE, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation said: “Every year, we meet thousands of readers and book lovers at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in February and the Month of Reading is the perfect opportunity to continue that literary journey. Reading has amazing benefits for one’s mental and physical health and at the Emirates Literature Foundation, we have made it our mission to instil the habit of reading in society from a young age. This March, for the Month of Reading, we have created a programme of free activities to support the reading infrastructure and cultural growth of UAE.”   

Activities and resources for all age groups in celebration of the Foundation’s 10-year anniversary

The Emirates Literature Foundation activities for the Month of Reading include: 

  1. ELF in Space is a new initiative from the Emirates Literature Foundation which will be launched on 9 March in collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. The interactive programme offers students a unique insight at what it’s like to be an astronaut, and the skills and knowledge such a role requires. Over the course of 20 weeks, students will follow UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi on his ground-breaking journey aboard the International Space Station. They will also hear from authors, space experts, and other UAE astronauts. The episodes are free and will be released weekly, with each episode focusing on a different topic to help students connect the dots between what they learn in class and its impact on their lives and the world around them. Extra activities and resources will also be available for download each week, to keep students engaged and propel their own explorations of the subject. Schools can register for the programme on the ELF In Space website. 
  1. For the second year in a row, the ELF Reading Caravan is back. The Foundation will be taking authors on a book tour to schools across the Emirates to ensure more children can meet an author in person and experience the joy of books in a new way. Beverley Jatwani will be participating with the latest book in her series Gogo the Mountain Gorilla, Jessica Smith will be reading from her book Jessica Goes Swimming, Kathy Urban will be hosting an interactive session about the naughty bunny who is the protagonist of her book Hop Lola Hop, Melanie La’Brooy will join with the first book in her middle-grade fantasy series The Wintrish Girl. Kholoud Al Hefeiti will be sharing her book My Uncle’s House, Mostafa Salameh will regale young adventurers with The Adventure of Everest, Nadia Al Najjar will be reading from the delightful Coloured Strings of Yarn, Noura Al Khouri will ride the ELF Reading Caravan again with the fan favourite Furboa and Sarah Abdullah will join in with her book My Friend is Red.
  1. The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s Virtual Student Edition will be made available to schools in UAE and across the globe from 1 March to 30 April. These pre-recorded sessions can be accessed from the Emirates Literature Foundation website and will showcase several fantastic sessions with world-renowned authors, Amal Nasser, Ben Miller, Fatima Sharafeddin, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Mostafa Salameh, Mouhannad Alakous, Onjali Q Rauf, Philip Reeve, Qasim Saudi, Rhianna Pratchett, Sudha Murty and Wafa Tarnowska. Arabic and English-speaking students across a range of ages can enjoy the content. Registration is mandatory but the fee is waived for this final edition of the virtual programme.   
  1. The Arabic and English Children’s Book Club of the Foundation are joining forces and will be hosting an exceptional meeting in the Month of Reading with author Ebtisam Al-Beiti, author of Citrus the Smoothie Sloth, and translator Samar Mahfouz Barraj. Citrus the Smoothie Sloth and its Arabic translation were published by the Foundation’s publishing house, ELF Publishing. The book club will be on 25 March and in addition to the book discussion by the host, it will include readings by the author and translator and an opportunity for children to ask questions. The monthly book club is held virtually on Zoom and participants must register beforehand on the Foundation’s website
  1. There will also be a book club meeting for the inmates of Dubai’s penal and correctional institutions, as part of the ongoing initiative ‘From the Inside Out’, a long-term collaboration between the Emirates Literature Foundation, the Dubai Police and Dubai Central Jail. 
  1. The child authors of Voices of Future Generations, the inspiring writing competition for children, are organising Meet, Greet and Read sessions in the Month of Reading in both Arabic and English. The online sessions will be hosted by the winning authors of previous cycles to introduce their work to their peers and encourage them to become young authors and sustainability ambassadors. In line with the programme, each session will focus on one or more sustainable development goals. Voices of Future Generations is a writing competition organised by the Emirates Literature Foundation on behalf of HH Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Goodwill Ambassador for the initiative for the region.
  1. The Wikimedians of the UAE User Group have organised a hybrid event to celebrate International Women’s Day with intention and action. The editathon will be dedicated to recognising the socio-economic and cultural achievements of women by editing Wikipedia articles about books, movies, scripts or works published by women locally and internationally. The goal is to edit at least 100 articles in three hours.
  1. On 15 March, the Foundation will be releasing recordings of selected full sessions from the 15th edition of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. These videos will be available for free on its YouTube channel as part of its outreach programme to the community. The selection includes sessions in English and in Arabic and in a multitude of formats: solo talks, panel discussions and special events. Throughout the Month of Reading, the Foundation will also be sharing interviews with authors on their social media accounts.  

March was declared Month of Reading in UAE in 2017 to foster a culture of reading with the aim of creating a knowledge economy. This is the seventh year of the programme, which is managed by the Ministry of Culture and Youth.