Hay Festival launches Abu Dhabi edition

Hay Festival today announced that it is launching Hay Festival Abu Dhabi.

This new edition of Hay Festival, the acclaimed Festival of literature, ideas and the arts, will take place at Abu Dhabi’s cultural centre, Manarat al Saadiyat and other venues in Abu Dhabi, for four days from 24-27 February 2020.

With Hay Festival Abu Dhabi, Hay Festival marks its return to the Arab world in one of the region’s most culturally prominent and diverse cities. The announcement comes during the UAE’s own celebration of 2019 as its “Year of Tolerance” to promote values of dialogue, coexistence, and openness to different cultures.

Since 1987, Hay Festival has programmed 125 Festivals globally, attracting more than 4.5 million people to events in 30 locations. The Festivals bring together writers and thinkers from different cultures, languages and walks of life to discuss ideas openly, share knowledge in all its forms, and host conversations which may not happen otherwise. Each Festival is firmly rooted in the respective local communities and literary traditions, whilst sharing the same culture of generosity and celebration that permeates all editions of the festival and everything it does. Hay Festival aims to spark everyone’s imagination and curiosity, from children to young literature enthusiasts to seasoned readers.

Hay Festival Abu Dhabi takes place in the context of the UAE’s growing publishing ecosystem and numerous literary initiatives, including Sharjah World Book Capital 2019. The project is supported by the UAE’s Ministry of Tolerance, which aims to build a tolerant society by promoting and deepening the values of co-existence and cultural dialogue amongst its nationals and its international residents, originating from more than 190 countries, who make up the social fabric of one of the most diverse nations on earth.

The Festival will host internationally acclaimed authors and thinkers, including Nobel Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Ahmed Galai, Lebanese novelist Hoda Barakat, winner of the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and writers Adonis, Jokha Alharthi, Muhammed Hasan Alwan, Tishani Doshi, and many more. Hay Festival Abu Dhabi will also invite diverse voices to its stages, sampling the best of contemporary international and Arab literature, including poets from the UAE’s vibrant spoken word and slam poetry scene.

Conversations will take place in Arabic, English and other languages and all sessions will be live translated into Arabic and English. Tickets to all sessions will be free for those in full time education.

Peter Florence, Hay Festival Director, commented: "We have four nights and four days to share stories and ideas, to engage a conversation that imagines the world as it is and as it might be. The Festival will be a showcase for great writing from across the Arab world, a platform for inspiring voices from many languages, and a meeting place for readers and dreamers."

Cristina Fuentes La Roche, Hay Festival international director, said: "We return to the Middle East to ask the best writers and thinkers from the Arab world and further afield to share ideas and stories. Conversations on stage are fundamental, often electrifying. They matter even more when they facilitate further conversations in the audience, at school, back home, at university, or in the street. We want everyone to speak, laugh and listen to one another with open minds at the Festival and beyond – join us for Hay Festival Abu Dhabi."

From thematic debates to literary interviews to spoken word performances, there will be sessions over four days. Hay Festival Abu Dhabi will also offer a wide-ranging programme of activities dedicated to children of all age groups and families, and closely collaborate with local schools to deliver educational programmes during school hours. Additionally, authors and thinkers will visit students and young people in local universities to help nurture the next generation of writers and creatives in the region and beyond.

Hay Festival aims to establish a long-term presence in the Arabic-speaking world from its newest platform in Abu Dhabi, building on the success of its three editions in Beirut (2009-2012) and the publication of its celebrated anthology of short stories by the best Arab writers under the age of 39, many of whom are now distinguished authors and journalists, in collaboration with Beirut World Book Capital 2009.

Hay Festival Abu Dhabi is made possible by the collaboration of the UAE’s Ministry of Tolerance and joins the global family of Festivals and forums programmed by the Hay Festival in more than 30 locations worldwide. Forthcoming Festivals include Hay Festival Arequipa (Peru), Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye (Wales), Hay Festival Europa 28, Rijeka (Croatia, for Rijeka 2020 - European Capital of Culture), Hay Festival Medellín (Colombia), Hay Festival Segovia (Spain), Hay Festival Forum Dallas (Texas, USA), and Hay Festival Queretaro (Mexico).

The full Hay Festival Abu Dhabi programme will be unveiled in November. Sign up here to find out more.