x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Authors praise Abu Dhabi book fair at event's grand finale

Final day of Abu Dhabi Book Fair sees The National's short story contest winner announced.

Suhail Omar, 12, looks through some of the Arabic titles on offer at the book fair yesterday. Sammy Dallal / The National
Suhail Omar, 12, looks through some of the Arabic titles on offer at the book fair yesterday. Sammy Dallal / The National

ABU DHABI // The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair drew to a close yesterday, with authors and visitors hailing the event's success.

Marianne Kennedy, the cultural programme manager, said the writers were impressed by the festival.

"That is very important for me," she said. "I wanted the festival to be a microcosm of Abu Dhabi society, so you would have authors getting asked challenging questions from a crowd that includes Emiratis, Lebanese, Indians, Germans and many other nationalities.

"The authors see this and they feel like they have never had this experience before, which is great for us."

The award ceremony for The National's Short Story Competition took place at the fair yesterday.

Hajer Al Mosleh, a Palestinian living in Dubai, scooped the first prize of an iPad 3 for her tale, Gone.

In second place was Jane Strachan, based in Abu Dhabi, who won an iPad Mini, while Janet Olearski, an educator in the capital, was third and received an iPad Nano.

"It makes a difference to all of us to be acknowledged here as part of the book fair," said Ms Al Mosleh, a 45-year-old poet and copy writer. "It gives me the confidence to continue writing. I hope to get my novel published and return to the book fair next year to speak about it."

The thousands of books on offer were not the fair's only attraction.

Agostino Todaro, an Italian tourist on a 10-day visit to the UAE, enjoyed watching a video of vintage camel races being held at the Emirates Heritage Club.

"I really feel this great respect to Sheikh Zayed," said Mr Todaro, from Pisa. "I have been to Dubai and now Abu Dhabi and to see how this place went from desert to what it is now, it is really amazing."

Andreas Teufl, from Germany, praised the fair's techno-savvy outlook. A business consultant based in Abu Dhabi, he compared the fair's progressive vision with its counterpart in Frankfurt.

"I am always interested in what's happening in terms of developments in the industry," he said.

"I am going to see the sessions today on e-publishing and it's good the fair is also focusing on this."

Irum Fawad, the fair's marketing manager, hailed the fair's book voucher scheme.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, donated Dh3 million worth of vouchers that schools and university students could use to buy books.

Mr Fawad said all the vouchers, each worth Dh50, had been snapped up.