British Council Announce Twelve Leading Emirati Authors for Market Focus Cultural Programme at The London Book Fair 2020

British Council Announce Twelve Leading Emirati Authors for Market Focus Cultural Programme at The London Book Fair 2020

The British Council, in partnership with the Sharjah Book Authority, is delighted to announce the Sharjah Market Focus Cultural Programme for The London Book Fair 2020, taking place 10-12 March.

Welcoming twelve of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s most prominent and exciting writers, the programme offers a valuable opportunity for both international publishers and UK audiences to meet Emirati authors and hear them discuss their work at The London Book Fair and other venues, including the British Library and National Poetry Library.

Events will explore Emirati writing and its place within the rich canon of Arabic literature, with talks addressing the influence of fairy tale and folklore in Emirati writing; the use of Arabic language and dialect; and the region’s long-standing poetry tradition. Other talks explore the challenges and opportunities of Arabic translation and literary initiatives in the UAE.

The delegation includes:

  • AFRA ATIQ – Market Focus Author of the Day and a rising star of the UAE literary scene. With her modern take on Nabati or “the people’s poetry”, Atiq has featured on numerous international platforms, performing a blend of bilingual and trilingual poems. As a scholar, her research focuses on Instagram and the Arab literary ecosystem.
  • KHULOOD AL MU’ALLA and KHALID ALBUDOOR, two of the region’s most respected poets. Al Mualla is a prize-winning author of six collections translated into Spanish, Turkish and Italian. Albudoor is a popular Arabic poet and author of six collections including his prize-winning debut Night. He is also a documentary film writer, focussing on the cultural heritage of the UAE, including oral heritage, traditional music and storytelling.
  • DUBAI ABULHOUL, author of the first Emirati fantasy novel in English and writer of five children’s books that introduce key figures from Emirati folklore. A Rhodes scholar, she was named ‘Young Arab of the Year’ in 2016.

Completing the delegation are Sultan AlAmeemi, nationally renowned critic, poet, researcher and Director of Poet’s Academy at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage; prolific short story writer, Mohammad Al- Murr; Dr Abdulaziz AlMusallam, an Emirati novelist who serves as chairman of Sharjah Institute for Heritage; Abdulla AlNuaimi; renowned UAE film and theatre actor and author, Habib Ghuloom Al-Attar; Omar Ghobash, Emirati diplomat and author of Letters to a Young Muslim; Emirati journalist and author Reem Al-Kamali; and award-winning Emirati writer Salha Obaid.

Ahead of the Sharjah Market Focus at The London Book Fair, the British Council, in partnership with New Writing North, Kalimat Group and Sharjah World Book Capital (SWBC) 2019, will also hold a literary translation workshop and study visit to Sharjah, running 13-15 February 2020. The three-day event brings together 12 mid-career Arabic to English and English to Arabic translators for developmental seminars, translation sessions and networking opportunities with guests from the UK, UAE and Arab World.

Rachel Stevens, Director Literature, British Council, says: “Sharjah has a wealth of literature to explore and I am delighted to see this exceptional group of authors representing both contemporary stories and the rich traditional heritage of the Gulf.

This year’s British Council Market Focus Cultural Programme highlights the indigenous Nabati poetry of the Gulf region, contemporary Arabic language and the role of dialect in fiction. We continue our support for literary translation networks by bringing our Arabic translation workshop to the London Book Fair, featuring a not-to-be-missed translation slam at the Literary Translation Centre. The British Council is delighted to be working with The London Book Fair and the Sharjah Book Authority on this programme, and we hope that publishers, translators, writers and anyone with an interest in the Gulf or Arab culture will engage with these exceptional writers, to help us better understand each other and build lasting connections for the future.”

Jacks Thomas, Director of The London Book Fair, said: “We are delighted to welcome such an interesting group of writers to this year’s London Book Fair and extend our thanks to partners at the British Council and the Sharjah Book Authority for coordinating such a fascinating programme. Since its introduction in 2004, the Market Focus programme has been a fantastic way to open doors for both commercial and cultural dialogue around the world and we hope publishers and readers alike will enjoy this opportunity to learn more about the literary heritage and best contemporary writing from one of the Arab world’s fastest-growing markets.”

Bodour Al Qasimi – VP of International Publishers Association (IPA), Founder and CEO of Kalimat Group, said:

“As we approach the end of a wonderful year as UNESCO World Book Capital, we continue to look ahead to new ways that Sharjah can continue in its role as a home to and champion of literature, creativity and the exchange of ideas. We are delighted to host February’s translation workshop, which offers another opportunity to welcome colleagues here, and to The London Book Fair where we look forward to sharing some of our own home-grown talent with the international community.”

HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority, said: “We are delighted to be LBF Market Focus in 2020, to reinforce the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to strengthen bridges of cultural communication around the world.

We believe in the power of books to foster knowledge, broaden horizons and open dialogue. London is the publishing capital of the world and at LBF 2020 we will present Sharjah’s unique cultural journey, that has flourished and expanded beyond the Gulf to establish itself as a global hub. Poetry has a celebrated place in Arabic culture and we are delighted to bring several poets to the UK to take part in events at the Fair and beyond. We have authors of Science Fiction, non-fiction, Middle Grade and academic works coming to London. It will be wonderful celebration of Sharjah’s love of books and reading.

We will also showcase the growth in our local and regional publishing sector, and SBA’s specific efforts to boost the number of new translations into and out of Arabic, which are the bedrock of cross-cultural exchange between cultures.”


For more information about the British Council’s Market Focus Cultural Programme, please contact:

Vicci Nelmes, Media Relations Officer, Arts | E: | T: +44 (0) 207 389 3083

For full programme details, biographical and publishing information about the writers and events, please visit the British Council Literature website.

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