Backed by the UAE’s Ministry of Tolerance, the first ever Hay Festival Abu Dhabi is set for February (25-28), culminating in a celebration of the “greatest living Arabic poet”, Syria’s Adonis.

From the Hay Festival Abu Dhabi website:

In Abu Dhabi, the festival will host internationally acclaimed authors and thinkers including: Nobel Laureates Ahmed Galai and Shirin Ebadi; Lebanese novelist Hoda Barakat, winner of the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction; Jokha Alharthi, winner of the International Booker Prize; the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction winner Muhammed Hasan Alwan; award-winning poet and novelist Tishani Doshi; and many more.

Hay Festival Abu Dhabi will also invite diverse voices to tell stories, 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 or English, and all sessions will be live translated into Arabic and English.

Since 1987, Hay Festival has attracted over 4.5 million visitors to 125 events in thirty venues, including three forays into the Middle East – although curiously only in Lebanon’s capital Beirut.

Hay Festival Abu Dhabi has lined up just shy of 100 events for the four day programme, with over 20 nationalities and 7 languages represented, and as the Hay Festival Abu Dhabi website explains,

The programme reflects the diversity of communities in Abu Dhabi itself, including writers from all around the Middle East, North Africa, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, China, Nigeria and Europe. A vibrant programme for schools will welcome over 70 local schools, inspiring and entertaining thousands of local students aged 7-16 years in Arabic, English, Hindi and Tagalog.

Arabic literature past and future will itself be a subject for conversation, including Ahmed El Shamsy on how print culture transformed Islamic intellectual tradition, and panel discussions featuring representatives from Sharjah World Book Capital, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Abu Dhabi’s longest-running book club Al Multaqa, The Department of Culture and Tourism, Sharjah Book Fair and UAE publishing house Kalimat.

Follow the Hay Festival Abu Dhabi on twitter: @hayfestarabic #HayAbuDhabi20.