Isobel Abulhoul came to Dubai in 1968 and co-founded Magrudy’s, a bookshop chain, in 1975.
In 2008, Isobel founded the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the Arab World’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word. The Festival brings together people of all ages with authors from across the world to promote education, inspiration, debate and, above all else, reading. The Festival has won numerous awards and is one of the best loved events in the UAE.
In 2013, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and also the Festival patron, issued a Decree forming the Emirates Literature Foundation, naming Isobel as one of the trustees on the Board. In addition, Isobel also holds the position of CEO of the Foundation.
Isobel has received several awards and accolades over the years, including Cultural Personality of the Year by Dr HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah in 2010 and an OBE by HM Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain in 2012. In 2016, Isobel accepted the UAE Pioneers Award for Best Non-Governmental Organisation for the Emirates Literature Foundation’s work in promoting reading initiatives during the UAE Year of Reading. In 2019, Isobel was named one of the 100 Inspiring Leaders in the GCC by Arabian Business magazine.