A cultural event at Al Dhafra Book Festival.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
The second edition of Al Dhafra Book Festival 2023 (ADBF), organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), was inaugurated on December 4 under the theme ‘Al Dhafra: Celebrating a Cultural Legacy’. To last for a week, it hosts a diverse cultural programme, including a range of events such as poetry evenings, seminars and artistic activities, to foster knowledge and culture.
The event brings together 50 exhibitors and more than 400 diverse activities at the Public Park in Zayed City, Al Dhafra Region, everyday. It also aims to showcase Al Dhafra as a leading cultural, touristic and historical destination for visitors from the UAE and overseas. Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the ALC, said that “the Al Dhafra region featured prominently in the thoughts and poems of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It is a city of poetry icons, a destination for their journeys, with a long history and rich folk heritage, making it an ideal venue for organising this festival.”
Saeed Hamdan Al Tunaiji, Executive Director of ALC, said: “Once again, we present the topics of culture, arts and creativity to the people of Al Dhafra, showcasing the beauty of poetry. We offer events that match the status and legacy of the city, as embodied in the poetry of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.” The programme schedule features a wide range of cultural events, with a poetry evening series named ‘Voices Loved by the People’, for the second year running.
Examining books at Al Dhafra Book Festival.
The evenings have been devoted to poets such as Ali Ahmed Al Kendi Al Marar, Rashad bin Sandeh Al Mansouri, Rashid bin Futtaimah Al Mansouri, Ali Salem Al Hameli, Abdullah Omar Bakhit Al Mansouri and Mubarak bin Yafour Al Amiri. The festival also includes a ceremony to honour the winners of the first edition of the Golden Narrative (Sard Al Thahab) Award, which recognises distinguished storytellers and narrators of literature at the Arab and international levels.
ADBF also features several cultural seminars, including a session titled ‘I Can!’ and ‘A Story of Hope’. Other sessions on the agenda include ‘Sustainability: From Ancestors to Descendants’, ‘The Relationship of Arab Youth Today with the Linguistic Heritage of the Arabic Language’, and ‘Together We Produce - Productive Families’.
The Arts Programme hosts a variety of styles and genres to attract visitors from Al Dhafra, including murals, floor art, caricature drawings, an art corner and a photography corner. The festival also presents a special programme for children, with a ‘Youth Corner’ being held for the first time, which includes activities designed specifically for children over 12 years of age, designed to enhance their grasp of concepts in creativity and innovation, in fields such as media, science, space, and chemistry.
The festival is held in collaboration with the Al Dhafra Region Municipality — Department of Municipalities and Transport as a strategic partner, as well as Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination, Arabic Language Youth Council, the Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan Future Generation Society, and the Environment Friends Society. A humanitarian lecture titled ‘Yes I Can!’ was held on the stage of the Public Park in Zayed City.
During the lecture, Mai Mohammed, a mother of a child of determination, shared her experience, starting from the discovery of her child’s disability to the point of accepting it. The lecture was organised in collaboration with the Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination to mark the International Day of Disabled Persons, which falls on December 3 every year. Afaf Radi from the ALC moderated the discussion, noting that dealing with children with disabilities is a challenging experience for all mothers. However, what sets one mother apart from another is how she overcomes the associated challenges and difficulties.
Drawing on her experience in dealing with her daughter Layan, Mai Mohammed said that there are stages a mother goes through, starting from noticing abnormal behaviour or symptoms in the child, searching for their causes, discovering the disability, reaching a stage of accepting the reality and living with it, and then overcoming the difficulties and obstacles that accompany treatment.
She talked about her daughter, Layan, who has Rett Syndrome — a rare condition that affects only females – bringing attention to the symptoms and information related to the disability. She lauded the care and healing that People of Determination in the UAE receive, highlighting the significant role of the Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination in supporting this segment of the community, training and empowering them to become a part of society, and developing their talents and abilities, supported by the various laws and legislation that emphasise their rights.
Afaf Radi spoke about the ‘Arabic Pals’ competition launched by the ALC, where People of Determination were invited to participate and actively took part in the programme. Shaikha Al Zaabi, Arts & Literature After-School Programmes Section Head at the ALC’s Arabic Language Education & Research, noted that “the Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination invited people with disabilities to participate in the ‘Arabic Pals’ competition.
We were amazed by the strong response to this initiative and received several entries from People of Determination. This truly embodies the idea of integration that we seek to implement on the widest scale, deepening the close link between People of Determination and the Arabic language.”
The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre has announced that the second edition of the festival achieved resounding success, since transitioning from a book fair to a book festival, and attracted over 95,000 visitors.
Fun workshops, competitions, plays and meet-ups with international and regional authors and illustrators await young visitors.
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