Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

Hay Festival Abu Dhabi launches outreach programmes for schools and universities

The festival will also provide free tickets for students in higher education and visitors under 25

Internationally, the Hay Festival is well-known for bringing youth activities into its programming. Courtesy Mary Perez
Internationally, the Hay Festival is well-known for bringing youth activities into its programming. Courtesy Mary Perez

Hay Festival Abu Dhabi has teamed up with a variety of organisations across the capital to deliver a new school and university outreach programme.

The world-famous Hay Festival, which started in Wales in 1987, will be held for the first time in the UAE next week.

Supported by the Ministry of Tolerance, the UAE's iteration of the event has now announced it has teamed up with literary organisations, education entities, universities and schools across Abu Dhabi to deliver a new schools and university outreach university programmes. It would also be offering free tickets to the festival for students in higher education and under 25s.

Internationally, the Hay Festival programme often features several events and activities dedicated to young people, often in partnership with local schools and institutions.

In Latin America, the festival has run the Growing Up Reading Programmes, Hay Festivalito and Hay Para Leer, which promote children's social inclusion, for 14 years. In its homeland of Wales, the festival runs its interactive Scribblers tour for young creative writers.

What is the Hay Festival Abu Dhabi Programme for Schools?

This event is intended to "inspire and entertain thousands of local students" across three days during the festival. It's open to young people aged between 7 and 16 years old and will be held at Manarat al Saadiyat from Tuesday to Thursday, February 25 to 27.

Each morning, between 9am and 12.15pm, students can be part of author-led workshops and activities, followed by an opportunity to meet their favourite author one-on-one during book signings.

Speakers include Emirati teenage science prodigy Dana Alblooshi, who will host sessions about her new book 13 Amazing Arab Women.

British children’s author Andy Stanton will talk about his hilarious book Mr Gum – about a man who hates children, animals, fun and corn on the cob.

Other speakers include: Ed Vere, Onjali Rauf, Philip Ardagh, Jenny Valentine, Noura Al Khoori, Maitha Al Khayat, Jamal Al Shehi, Rym Ghazal, Gerald and Daphne Mercer, Dawn Metcalf and Sarah Bahar. Students will also get a chance to meet authors from the adults' programme, such as Miguel Syjuco for a session in Taglish, mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, and politician and novelist Shashi Tharoor will host a session in Hindi.

The sessions are free, and organisers have extended the invitation to over 70 public and private schools from across the capital.

What is the Hay Festival Abu Dhabi University Outreach?

These will be special workshops and lectures featuring high profile literary guests from the festival, aimed at students, faculty and university staff at local universities.

These sessions will run across university campuses in the capital from Tuesday to Thursday, in the afternoons. They will be held in Arabic, English and French.

Bernardine Evaristo was at Hay Festival Abu Dhabi this week. Getty
Bernardine Evaristo, 2019 Booker Prize winner, is involved in the university outreach programme. Getty Images

There will also be a special three-day creative writing workshop for university domestic workers and other community members who work at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus. This will be led by British author Jenny Valentine, and is run in collaboration with NYUAD's Office of Social Responsibility.

Participants, who already write in their spare time, will be offered paid time off to work to finish a creative writing piece, and final materials will be published on the Hay Festival International Writers' Blog.

The sessions will also include lectures and speeches from Bulgarian author Kapka Kassabova, Cambridge physicist Christophe Galfard, Shashi Tharoor, Baillie Gifford Prize winner Hallie Rubenhold and Booker Prize Winner Bernardine Evaristo. Poets Adonis, Yang Lian, Volker Braun, Pierre Joris, Serge Pey and Zuleikha Aburisha will have a round table discussion about creative writing.

For more information about the programmes and session times, check out the Hay Festival Abu Dhabi website

Updated: February 20, 2020 12:52 PM

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