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All Strangers Are Kin: Adventures in Arabic

Event 171 Friday 3 March, 1.30pm-2.30pm Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

Authors: Zora O'Neill
“The shadda is the key difference between a pigeon (hamam) and a bathroom (hammam). Be careful, our professor advised, in the first moment of outright humor in class, that you don’t ask a waiter, ‘Excuse me, where is the pigeon?’ — or, conversely, order a roasted toilet.” – Zora O’Neill

Zora O'Neill studied Arabic for seven years, but never felt comfortable speaking it. In what she came to call her ‘Year of Speaking Arabic Badly’, she travelled the Arabic-speaking world, including the Emirates, trying to master different dialects – which inevitably led to many humorous misadventures! Native and Non-Arabic speakers alike will revel in Zora’s witty storytelling.

Language: English, with simultaneous Arabic translation

All Strangers Are Kin: Adventures in Arabic

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Culture Shock: Facing the Unknown

Event 174 Friday 3 March, 3pm-4pm Al Ras 1, InterContinental

“I moved from heat to cold, from the Third World to the First… I also moved from a religious Muslim culture to a secular one and that move was the most disturbing of all, the trauma that no amount of time could cure, an eternal culture shock.” – Leila Aboulela

What do you gain and what do you lose when you leave everything that you know behind and embrace life in a new environment? For the authors in today’s panel, this is a constant question, as each has had to redefine themselves in the face of a new culture.

Leila Aboulela grew up in Khartoum but moved to Aberdeen with her husband and children, a relocation that inspired her first novel, The Translator. Her journey has also seen detours to London, Jakarta, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

Paul MacAlindin is from Scotland, but his work as a conductor has taken him around the world – most notably to Iraq, a country he knew next to nothing about when he took on the project of helping young musicians found the National Youth Orchestra.

Language: English

Culture Shock: Facing the Unknown

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KAPOW! Comics and Animation: Culture Strikes Back!

Event 166 Friday 3 March, 7.30pm-8.30pm Al Ras 1, InterContinental

“When Freej by Mohammed Saeed Harib came out, it kind of broke a lot of rules.” – Khaled bin Hamad

Can comics and animation embrace tradition while still breaking new ground and achieving popular success? Our three panellists discuss the new dawn of culture.

Sana Amanat’s experiences as a Muslim growing up in New Jersey shaped Marvel Comics’ new character Kamala Khan, and changes in American culture are being reflected in America’s superhero comics.

Khaled bin Hamad and Mohammed Saeed Harib are responding to Dubai’s sudden metamorphosis from quiet trading town to global megacity. Harib’s animated series Freej depicts the generation of women who witnessed this change and its effect on their traditional neighbourhood; while bin Hamad’s graphic novel Nasser’s Secrets and his forthcoming anime Empire of N examine the science-fictional nature of the new UAE – and are influenced by the years he spent studying in Japan.

Language: English, with simultaneous Arabic translation

KAPOW! Comics and Animation: Culture Strikes Back!

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Journey to Modern India (with a Crime-fighting Elephant!)

Event 177 Saturday 4 March, 11.30am-12.30pm Al Ras 1, InterContinental

Authors: Vaseem Khan
“I could not have written this novel without those ten years of incredible experiences.” – Vaseem Khan

When Vaseem Khan arrived in Mumbai to work as a management consultant, he was startled to see an elephant lumbering down the middle of the road – a sight that planted the seed for his acclaimed crime series featuring Inspector Chopra and Ganesha the baby elephant.

In this captivating talk he explains how he came to be in India, how modern Mumbai came to the place it occupies in modern India, and his own journey from first elephant sighting to eventual publication.

Language: English, with simultaneous Arabic translation

Journey to Modern India (with a Crime-fighting Elephant!)

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The Taaleem Award Prize Giving

Event 202 Saturday 4 March, 1pm-1.30pm Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

The Taaleem Poetry Award celebrates young poets. This year’s prize will be presented by Carnegie Award-winning children’s author and poet Kevin Crossley-Holland and Emirati children's author and journalist Shaima Al Marzooqi.

Prizewinners will be invited to attend the following session, ‘Vikings and Arthurian Knights’ for free.

Language: Arabic, English with simultaneous translation

Age Group: 9-Adult

The Taaleem Award Prize Giving

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Vikings and Arthurian Knights : Legendary Journeys

Event 43 Saturday 4 March, 1pm-2.30pm Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

The Taaleem Poetry Award celebrates young poets, and for this year’s prize giving we are joined by Carnegie Award-winning children’s author and poet Kevin Crossley-Holland, speaking about the ancient journeys of history, myth and legend.

The ancient world was one of epic voyages and treks, where pilgrims ventured into lands unknown. From King Arthur to Viking explorers to medieval villagers taking their first steps into a larger world, Kevin’s characters take life-changing journeys and will definitely have something to teach readers and writers who are beginning their own.

Prizewinners will attend this session for free.

Language: English

Age Group: 9-Adult

Vikings and Arthurian Knights : Legendary Journeys

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Myth and Mythconception

Event 51 Saturday 4 March, 5pm-6pm Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

“The old stories have a lot of wit, riddles and imagination in them.” AbdullAziz AlMusallam, on Emirati folk tales

How much can you learn about a culture from its stories? Each of our panellists has committed themselves to preserving and retelling folk tales – together they explore the world of mythology.

Kevin Crossley-Holland is an expert in Norse mythology and the author of The Penguin Book of Norse Myths. He has also translated Beowulf and used Arthurian legend as the basis for his Arthur Trilogy.

Sonia Nimr is a Palestinian author on a mission to preserve oral history and traditional stories. Her collection of folk stories in colloquial Arabic, Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands, won the 2013 Etisalat Book Award.

Language: Arabic, English with simultaneous translation

Myth and Mythconception

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Upbeat: The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq

Event 179 Monday 6 March, 7.30pm-8.30pm Al Rimal, InterContinental

“Culture is not an added extra. It’s not a nice middle-class thing to have. It’s absolutely fundamentally essential.” – Paul MacAlindin

In the summer of 2008, Paul MacAlindin read an article that would change his life – and the cultural scene in Iraq. 17-year-old pianist Zahel Sultan was on the search for a conductor to help form a national youth orchestra for Iraq; MacAlindin, who had just returned from high-profile jobs in Armenia, the US and New Zealand, jumped at the chance to do something different.

In his book Upbeat, MacAlindin tells the story of what followed: the hunt for musicians, the red tape of permissions, and above all, the fight to bring joy to the music of traumatised children.

MacAlindin’s moving – sometimes devastating – story is about a group of people defying our recent history to find happiness.

Language: English, with simultaneous Arabic translation

Upbeat: The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq

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Lost Objects: Preserving the Past

Event 64 Wednesday 8 March, 6pm-7pm Al Ras 3, InterContinental

How do we hold on to heritage in an increasingly globalised world? Can the destruction of historical objects affect our future? Does language extinction matter? Our panel considers the implications of neglecting the past.

Bettany Hughes is a historian specialising in classical history, and has dedicated her career to keeping the past alive and uncovering its buried secrets.

AbdullAziz AlMusallam is Director of Heritage for the Sharjah government and an expert on UAE history and folklore who has an interest in investigating and recording UAE dialects.

Kanishk Tharoor recently presented the BBC radio series Museum of Lost Objects, in which he tells the stories of destroyed and looted sites. He also writes about the cultural implications of endangered languages.

Language: Arabic, English with simultaneous translation

Lost Objects: Preserving the Past

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The Eagle Huntress: Film screening with Talk by Abi Elphinstone

Event 217 Wednesday 8 March, 7pm-9pm Novo Cinemas Screen 5

“This is a movie that expands your sense of what is possible.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times review of The Eagle Huntress

Thirteen-year-old Kazakh girl Aisholpan Nurgaiv has an unusual ability – she is an eagle huntress, hunting foxes with her golden eagle. This documentary about the first woman in twelve generations of her family to take up hunting (and win the competition at the annual Golden Eagle Festival) swept awards and nominations at film festivals across the world. Director Otto Bell uses drone-mounted cameras to capture extraordinary footage of the eagles and the Mongolian landscape, and narration is provided by Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), but the heart of the film is Aisholpan and her relationship with her supportive father, who helps her learn to train eagles and raise her own eaglet.

The film screening is opened by a talk by Abi Elphinstone, author of The Dream Snatcher, who in 2015 spent time with Aisholpan and her family as part of research for a forthcoming book. Abi will share stories and pictures from her Mongolian adventure along with her insights into the extraordinary culture of the Kazakh Eagle Hunters.

Film language: Kazakh with English subtitles and narration.

Talk language: English

Age: 9+ (parental guidance – hunting scenes)

The Eagle Huntress: Film screening with Talk by Abi Elphinstone

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The Strait of Hormuz: Living Memories

Event 141 Thursday 9 March, 10am-11am Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

Emirati author Reem Al Kamali’s interest in history began when she was a young girl listening to her grandmother’s oral stories; as well as her love for the land she was born in, Khasab in Musandam, overlooking the Strait of Hormuz. She went on to obtain a degree in history and archaeology, and spent several years studying this fascinating land – strategically important throughout history and if anything, even more so in today’s world of global supply chains: more than 20% of the world’s petroleum passes through the Strait.

Her research also led her to write the novel Strait of Hormuz. This novel is rich in historical detail and authentic cultural insights from Al Kamali’s studies of the region’s oral history.

Al Kamali is an Emirati author and journalist, currently working as Editor of Al Bayan newspaper. Strait of Hormuz won the Al Owais Award for best creative fiction of 2015 and the 2016 Sayidaty magazine literary award for Emirati women.

Come along for new insights into the history and culture of this important region and to learn more about an exciting new novelist.

Language: Arabic, with simultaneous English translation

The Strait of Hormuz: Living Memories

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When in the Arab World: A Lunch that Means Business

Event 207 Thursday 9 March, 1.30pm-3pm Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

Authors: Rana Nejem
“How many a diplomatic crisis could have been avoided? How many broken business deals and fractured relationships could have been saved with a little cultural intelligence?” – Rana Nejem

Have you ever made a culturally insensitive faux-pas in the Arab region? Are you anxious about offending? Or do you just want to know a bit more about Arab culture?

This three course lunch will feature a talk from Rana Nejem, a social and cultural intelligence coach whose expertise in international communications, protocol and PR has seen her working as a journalist for CNN, handling the International Media Department for the late King Hussein of Jordan, and as Director of Communications and PR for the British Embassy in Amman for 18 years. She has recently channeled this expertise into a comprehensive guide on the subject, When in the Arab World: An Insider’s Guide to Living and Working with Arab Culture. Be prepared for enlightening anecdotes and to leave both well-fed and well-informed.

Dress code: smart/casual.

Language: English

When in the Arab World: A Lunch that Means Business

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Wars and Wildlife

Event 186 Friday 10 March, 1.30pm-2.30pm Al Khayma, InterContinental

“This is wonderful conservation work from a country where the daily news is rarely uplifting.” – Richard Porter on the work of Nature Iraq biologists.

Richard Porter has been at the frontline of conservation in the Middle East for many years, working with BirdLife International, Nature Iraq and other organisations on many projects especially in Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Yemen. In this fascinating presentation on his experiences working in war-torn countries, he shares a picture of hope that can be provided by a renewed natural environment – and how protecting nature can inspire citizens and even build relationships between nations.

Language: English

Wars and Wildlife

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The Hero's Journey with Candy Gourlay

Event 96 Friday 10 March, 3pm-4pm Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

Authors: Candy Gourlay

When Candy Gourlay was a child, she never saw children who looked like her in books – now she’s the one writing them! She tells the story of her extraordinary life using the classic tale of the Hero’s Journey, from her coming of age in the Philippines during the 1986 revolution to her present life in London.

In this interactive presentation she talks about her time as a journalist, her years of writing and rejection and her eventual success in publishing her acclaimed novels Tall Story and Shine

Language: English

Age Group: 9-Adult

The Hero's Journey with Candy Gourlay

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Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities

Event 106 Saturday 11 March, 10am-11am Al Ras 1, InterContinental

“Istanbul has always been a place where stories and histories collide and crackle.” – Bettany Hughes

Istanbul – the city once known as Byzantium and Constantinople – has a proud history as a gateway between East and West and the heart of multiple civilisations.

Bettany Hughes returns to the Festival to introduce us to one of the world’s oldest and most influential global cities in a new cultural history Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities. The longest-lived political entity in Europe, Istanbul has been home to many different peoples and cultures; archaeologists have measured forty-two human habitation layers in the city that has been called home by everyone from Phoenicians to Vikings.

Bettany Hughes, a captivating presenter of history known for her TV and radio series such as Genius of the Ancient World and Ancient Ways and her books The Hemlock Cup and Helen of Troy, is the perfect person to lead us on a journey into the layers of history in Istanbul.

Language: English, with simultaneous Arabic translation

Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities

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