The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair organiser Kitab aims to bring the three 'Rs' - reading, writing and reciting - to the oasis city of Al Ain.
Book fair returns to Al Ain
Living in Al Ain means you're a fair distance from the capital and the coastline. But that doesn't mean you're cut off from culture. Kitab has made sure of this by organising Al Ain Reads Book Show, held today until Saturday. Now in its third year, a whole host of new features has been added to make sure you take part and to help spread a love of books and reading.
The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) is one of the UAE's major literary events, firmly placed on every book lover's calendar each spring. Kitab, ADIBF's organiser, wanted to make sure Al Ain doesn't miss out on the literary wares of the main event, despite its proximity to the capital.
"We wanted to bring the promotion of literature and the opportunity to meet writers, poets and publishers to people in Al Ain, and really bring a taste of the ADIBF to this part of the country," says Marianne Kennedy, the cultural programme manager at Kitab.
"Our main goal is to bring literature to the people, to encourage young kids in particular to read and really get a sense of how wonderful reading is, to let people meet authors and have direct contact with books and storytelling," she adds.
Reading, writing, reciting
Writers and bookish types from almost every genre will be speaking at the show; from novelists, poets and storytellers, to journalists, publishers and essayists. Works by local Emirati writers will be heavily featured at the show, along with Arabic works by UAE-based expatriate writers.
"The UAE Writers' Union … holds a strong vision to promote literature and encourage literary events in the UAE and the region. This leads to a healthy, strong, literary scene that's growing now, which is very encouraging," Kennedy says.
This year, audience participation is being encouraged through an open mic session, where anyone can brave the stage with their poetry in any language; in a separate session, schoolchildren will have the opportunity to read out their favourite poems or poems they have composed themselves. Q&A sessions will also be held after every event or presentation and audience members are encouraged to comment. Other cultural activities held in special "corners" include calligraphy demonstrations and workshops, art and handicrafts and the owner of a newly opened second-hand bookshop in Al Ain will also be speaking. In a special session, Al Rewayat Book Club members have been given a great opportunity to interview the Booker-longlisted author Nasser Iraq about his novel Taj Al Hudud.
Art and literature have always been closely related, which is why this year's book launches are presented by a new partner, Abu Dhabi Art. To be launched through Ayyam Gallery and Meem Gallery, the two book launch titles will be announced at the show. Charles Pocock of the Meem Gallery is set to attend. The publisher Kuttub - which is also supporting the Show this year - will also be launching two titles, also to be announced at the show.
Back by popular demand is the book exchange, where you can take a used book and pick up another for free. The exchange will be held on Friday and Saturday and Arabic and English books in "fairly" good condition are accepted.
"We want to promote that reading is the key to emancipation; it makes strong citizens of the world and it opens your mind so much," Kennedy says.
Al Ain Reads runs daily from today until Saturday. Open daily from 9am-2pm and 5pm-10pm, except Friday 5pm-10pm, at the Al Ain Convention Centre, Hall 1