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ADIBF Education Programme 2023

Knowledge Circle

Knowledge Circle is a set of cultural events taking place once a month from September 2023. The sessions are hosted and organised by the National Library & Archives and programmed by the Emirates Literature Foundation. They encompass a diverse range of topics, stimulating dialogue and exploration of various facets of literary and cultural development.

Archival systems play a key role in preserving the memory of a nation. The purpose of the Knowledge Circle is to highlight the significance of this task by curating sessions with speakers who are making an impact in the development of the Nation’s identity. We invite you to sign up for our monthly series and engage in conversations with leading experts and the Knowledge Circle community.

Browse below for further information or if you are interested, explore the programme in Arabic.

Programme Overview

20 September 2023 Shaping The Arab World – The Influence of Archival Systems on Social & Economic Development
18 October 2023 Science for Sustainability – Evolving Practices and Conventions
16 November 2023 Emirati History Day – Looking Back at the Future
5 December 2023 Nature, Science, and Technology in Ocean Conservation
10 January 2024 Bridging Cultures through Music
2 February 2024 Alex Bescoby: The Last Overland
20 March 2024 Culture through Soft Power
1-4 May 2024 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF)

To check details of the sessions held and speakers attending on any of the days, please click a theme title above.

1-4 May 2024

Programme Schedule

Knowledge Circle at Abu Dhabi Book Fair

After a successful round of the Knowledge Circle in 2023, we have expanded our horizons and are travelling around UAE on a tour with our cultural partners.

First Stop: Knowledge Circle at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
Second Stop: Knowledge Circle at Theatre of Digital Arts
Third Stop: Knowledge Circle at Abu Dhabi Book Fair

Children's Encyclopaedia of the UAE

Speakers: Francesca Affleck
Day and Date: Wednesday 1 May 2024
Time: 11:30 AM
Language: English
Age Group: 10-12 year olds
Location: Edutainment Stage, Hall 7, ADNEC

The Encyclopedia of the UAE by Francesca Affleck offers young readers an engaging exploration of the UAE’s rich heritage and vibrant future. From geography and iconic buildings to people, jobs, and wildlife, this beautifully illustrated book invites children to discover the fascinating world of the UAE through fun and informative topics. Join us for a captivating session designed to spark curiosity and inspire learning in children eager to explore the wonders of the UAE!

Copies of The Encyclopedia of the UAE will be available on-site for purchase and the session will be followed by book signing.

Francesca Affleck is the author of Discovering the United Emirates, a book hailed by The National as ‘a crucial guide for expats’ and ‘everything you need to know between two covers’.

Affleck is currently an education consultant who has taught in primary schools in Dubai and England. She has travelled across the Emirates extensively to capture, first hand, some of its features. Having previously lived with her family in India, Hong Kong, England, Pakistan, Oman and Singapore, Francesca has plenty experience of different cultures.


A Dragon Called Blue

Speaker: Ebtisam Al-Beiti
Day and Date : Thursday 2 May 2024
Time: 11:30 AM
Language: English
Age Group: 4-6 year olds
Location: Edutainment Stage, Hall 7, ADNEC

Join us for a magical story reading with Ebtisam Al-Beiti as she presents her newest book A Dragon Called Blue in Abu Dhabi. Follow Blue, a charming dragon, on her adventure with an unusual brown egg, exploring the theme of change and the joy of welcoming siblings. This delightful tale offers a fun way for children to learn about colours while embracing new experiences. Don’t miss this engaging session that’s perfect for sparking conversations and inspiring young minds!

Copies of A Dragon Called Blue will be available on-site for purchase and the session will be followed by book signing.

Ebtisam Al-Beiti is a published children’s author and early years professional who has had a passion for education since high school, where she used to volunteer to read stories to preschool children. Earning a Post-Graduate Certificate in education and working in managerial and teaching roles inspired her to write books with a strong educational message for our young readers.

Al-Beiti is a member of the Global Council, which works towards achieving selected Sustainable Development Goals. Being an advocate for education, she has strived to contribute to the education of young children and has also volunteered in special needs schools in her free time. Al-Beiti lives with her family in Dubai and is not to be confused with her identical twin sister!


Voices from the Region Emerging Literature and Cultural Narratives

Speakers: Chip Rosetti, Reem Al Kamali and Sara Hamdan
Moderator: Rola Al Banna
Day and Date: Saturday 4 May 2024
Language: Multilanguage with simultaneous translation
Location: National Library and Archives, Stand #5, Area 11G, ADNEC

We invite you on a journey through the vibrant and diverse literary landscapes of the region. This curated session showcases the voices of talented authors and poets who are reshaping and redefining cultural narratives through their compelling works. Explore the richness of contemporary literature, delve into thought-provoking discussions, and discover the stories that reflect the evolving cultural, social, and political dynamics of the region. Additionally, we will explore the importance of literary translations in bridging cultures and fostering understanding across borders.

Join us to celebrate the power of storytelling and the creativity of writers who are making a significant impact on the literary world.

Copies of Rose’s Diaries will be available on-site for purchase and the session will be followed by book signing.

Chip Rosetti is a translator of Arabic literature and has worked in book publishing for over 20 years. He is the Editorial Director of the Library of Arabic Literature book series at NYU Abu Dhabi.

His translations include short story collection Animals in Our Days by Mohamed Makhzangi; No Windmills in Basra, award-winning flash fiction by Iraqi writer Diaa Jubaili; Beirut, Beirut by Sonallah Ibrahim; Utopia by Ahmed Khaled Towfik; and the graphic novel Metro: A Story of Cairo by Magdy El Shafee.

He holds a Ph.D. in modern Arabic literature from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently working on an edition and translation of a text about the wonders of the world by the 12th-century Andalusi traveler and scholar Abu Hamid al-Gharnati.

Reem Al Kamali is an Emirati novelist. Her novel Sultanate of Hormuz won the 2015 Al Owais Creativity Award. Her novel Dalma Statue won the 2018 Sharjah Creativity Award. Her novel Rose’s Diary was shortlisted for the 2022 Sheikh Zayed Prize as well as the 2022 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), making her the first Emirati novelist ever to be shortlisted for the IPAF.

Sara Hamdan is a Netflix short story award winner, former New York Times journalist and ex-editor at Google.
Our First Chapter fellow Sara Hamdan has achieved a regional first in publishing: her debut novel, 𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘞𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘗𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬?, got snapped up in a major 𝐭𝐰𝐨-𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐥 with US publisher Holt following a highly competitive auction and is scheduled for publication in early 2025.


Contact Us

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Past Events

Programme Schedule


The Last Overland

Alex Bescoby speaks about The Last Overland, the chronicle of his 19,000-mile journey by car from Singapore to London — an expedition in tribute to the history-making First Overland of 1955.

A thumbnail for The Last Overland Session

The Last Overland

Session Overview: The Last Overland
Speaker: Alex Bescoby
Moderator: Mustafa Alrawi
Time: 3:00 - 4:00 pm
Language: English
Location: Intercontinental, Dubai Festival City

In 1955, a then up-and-coming BBC producer, David Attenborough, gifted six young explorers a film reel so that they could document their ambitious 19,000-mile journey from London to Singapore — a history-making feat dubbed the First Overland. In The Last Overland, young British filmmaker and adventurer Alex Bescoby writes about his own epic 2019 journey by car from Singapore to London — a trip he planned with one of the original six explorers and in the very same Land Rover used in 1955. He speaks with Mustafa Alrawi about defying the odds, how the road — and world — have changed since the first expedition, and the surprising moments experienced along the way.

Alex Bescoby is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, author and presenter with a love of history, travel and storytelling. In 2016, Bescoby co-founded independent production company Grammar Productions, to make innovative documentaries that delve deeper into history and how it affects the lives of people and societies around the world today.

Mustafa Alrawi is assistant editor in chief at The National and a contributor to US media outlet Axios on Middle East and Gulf affairs. Alrawi has interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Daniel Yergin, House of Gucci author Sara Gay Forden and The 99 creator Naif Al-Mutawa. He is a First Chapter: Emirates Literature Foundation Seddiqi Writers' Fellow. His latest work in progress is young adult fantasy novel Muchafraid, set in 13th century Baghdad. Alrawi is the host of the Business Extra podcast show.

Programme Schedule


Bridging Cultures through Music

The UAE has a multicultural population and a thriving art and culture scene that supports the heritage of the Emiratis and that of the expat population./span>

Join local and locally based musicians to experience a harmonious fusion of international melodies, showcasing the unity that music creates across boundaries.

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Mystique Melodies

Session Overview: Bridging Cultures through Music
Performers: Ammar Ashkar, Arqam Al Abri, Rand Farmawi, Sreeja Chakra
Host: Namal Siddiqui
Time: 6:30 - 7:30 pm
Language: English & Arabic

Dive into a mesmerizing hour of musical diversity as we present a unique session featuring four exceptional UAE-based artists. Arqam Al Abri, an Emirati soul singer, will weave emotive tales with his soulful melodies. Ammar Ashkar, a seasoned Syrian performer, will enchant you with his incredible vocal range in both Arabic and English. Rand, a Palestinian singer raised in Jordan, will take you on a nostalgic journey with her choice of Arabic songs, drawing inspiration from her time in the school choir. Completing the quartet is Sreeja Chakra, a Bengali singer-songwriter residing in Dubai, who will add her own cultural flair to the mix. Join us for an evening of harmonious collaboration, celebrating the rich musical tapestry woven by these talented artists.

Arqam Al Abri Born and raised in the UAE, Arqam is an Emirati Soul singer, who left the corporate world to strive and make a difference with positive music and conscious entrepreneurship. His music is an embodiment of the UAE, where the old values meet the new and progressive - old-school soul and neo-soul beats, with lyrics rooted in positivity, introspection, love, and search for purpose. Other than performing around the city, Arqam currently has music available on Apple Music, Spotify Deezer, and all other major streaming platforms. His objective with music is to reach people and share his values, and the UAE's values, and to bring about a positive change. The values of tolerance, love, understanding, peace, and caring for our environment.

Ammar Ashkar has over a decade of experience performing live, both as a solo artist and with various bands. He holds a UAE Golden Visa for his contributions as a singer and currently resides in Dubai. Ammar's performances have graced many notable locations across the UAE, such as EXPO2020, RAKFAF, Sikka, D3, TODA, cultural events, and various venues. His repertoire spans a wide range of genres in Arabic and English, with a particular emphasis on traditional and contemporary Syrian, Lebanese, Emirati, and Egyptian music. Ammar has also composed several songs, some of which were featured in Shahid+ series.

Rand Farmawi is a Palestinian singer born and raised in Jordan. Nostalgia informs her choice of Arabic songs, songs she has been singing since she was 8 at her school choir and various country-level competitions in Jordan and Dubai. During times like these, Rand finds power and solace in reciting the songs of Arab artists showcasing their solidarity with the Palestinians and through music, echoing the Palestinian dream to live a normal life in Palestine.

Sreeja Chakra is a Bengali singer/songwriter who grew up in, and is now based out of Dubai, UAE. Her journey started at the the age of 12, when she started performing at open mics, social and school events. In 2014, she was selected out of 100 applicants to perform at the Winter Wonders Concert at Global Village hosted by the local radio station in Dubai. She also attended The Five Week Summer Programme at Berklee, College of Music in Boston. She moved to Denver, CO from Dubai in 2018 to pursue a BSc in Music Business at the University of Colorado. It is there that she began her music career in the local music scene. Sreeja's music can be defined as a fusion of South Asian music styles and Alternative R&B. She has released a few singles and an EP since 2022.

Programme Schedule


Nature, Science, and Technology in Ocean Conservation

Since the beginning of time, humankind has had a fascination with the animal world. There have been several attempts to communicate with other species.

And thanks to cutting-edge technological advancements in big data and machine intelligence, we are now closer than ever to decode animal language, changing the world as we know it forever. 

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Symphony of the Seas

Session Overview: A deep dive in the underwater world of sea creatures
Speakers: Dr Hind Al Ameri, Tom Mustill and Vahakn Matossian
Chairperson: Isobel Abulhoul
Time: 4:00 - 5:00 pm
Language: English, with simultaneous translation in Arabic

70% of the planet earth is blue and all humans depend on the oceans and seas - whether it's for oxygen, food, transport or habitat. The UAE has a long history of pearl diving and fishing. And the success of the nation in modern times can be attributed in great part to trade and tourism.

The Arabian Sea is even more important to diverse species - such as dugongs, dolphins, sharks, turtles and whales - that call the open waters, sandy beaches and coral reefs home.

This session is about learning about sea creature communication and the impact they have on marine ecosystems in an engaging and interactive setting with storytelling, video footage and a very special whale bath song! 

Dr Hind Al Ameri works at the Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi. As a marine conservation scientist, her focus is on exploring the secrets of our blue planet. She takes a keen interest in sea turtles, specially on the Hawksbill, which is the only species that nests in the Emirates.

Tom Mustill is a biologist turned filmmaker and writer, specialising in stories where people and nature meet. His first book, How to Speak Whale traces an extraordinary investigation into the deep ocean and today's cutting edge science..

Vahakn Matossian is a music specialist and product designer working in the realms of interactive art. His music creation work contains a huge element of play throughout and takes a mind bending look at objects we think we know well. 

Isobel Abulhoul OBE is a renowned cultural leader in the UAE. She founded Magrudys, a bookshop chain, and also the award-winning Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. She currently serves as the advisor and trustee on the board of Emirates Literature Foundation. She is also a trustee of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Member of the Police Advisory Council for Community Service, Secretary General of the Kalimat Foundation, Director of the Board for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library and Chairperson for the Global Council.

Programme Schedule


Shaping the Arab World - The Influence of Archival Systems on Social & Economic Development

On the inaugural day of this cultural series, esteemed speakers from academia and public office will converge with youth representatives. Together, they will explore how archival practices in the region have aided in creating and influencing the current economic and social position of the Arab world, the dialogue amongst countries and shaped the outlook of the future. 

Andy Stanton's Session at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

The Gulf Crossroads

Session Overview: Living tribute to the heritage of our nation
Speakers: Alia Al Shamsi, Prof. Peter Magee, Prof. Timothy Power
Chair: Prof. William Zimmerle
Time: 9:30 - 10:30
Language: English

How much did the Arab world interact amongst each other and beyond? Did Egyptian officials thousands of years ago ever pass through the Gulf? Did a French perfumer ever stop over in Oman for a sojourn? Were these intersections of cultures documented? And what effect did these interactions have on each nation? Was there an exchange of best practices, policies and laws amongst communicating nations? Has historical diplomacy influenced the economies of these nations?

Alia Al Shamsi is an author, artist and a former adjunct faculty at the American University of Sharjah. She has taught photography and has work experiences in journalism and in the arts and culture sector across Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. She currently works at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Prof. Peter Magee is currently the Director of the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi. He has over 25 years of experience in researching and promoting the cultural heritage of the United Arab Emirates and Arab world.

Prof. Timothy Power is an associate professor of archaeology at United Arab University, Abu Dhabi. Over the years, he has worked on the history and archaeology of many notable sites in the Emirates, including Qasr al-Muwaij‘i, al-Ain Museum, Qasr al-Hosn and Hatta Dam.

Prof William Zimmerle is currently a faculty member of the Humanities Research Institute for the Study of the Arab World, and Senior Lecturer in Heritage and Ancient World at NYUAD. He is also a Special Advisor-Lecturer at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Graduate School of Public and Global Affairs where he teaches World Heritage and Climate Change seminars to diplomatic staff at the United Nations. He directs Ra'eha رائحة : The Digital Heritage Library of Arabian Incense, Perfumes, and Fragrances at NYUAD.

Colette Barr and Leona COllins' Session at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Building a Nation

Speakers: Anthony Geffen, Prof. Peter Magee, Prof. Timothy Power
Chair: Amna Abulhoul
Time: 10:45 - 11:45
Language: English

A discussion about how preservation of cultural narratives can be supported by embracing new technologies such as immersive storytelling. Speakers will discuss the importance of research along with CGI and immersive technology in recreating history and its future. The panel discussion will include BAFTA winning filmmaker Anthony Geffen, Prof. Peter Magee, Prof. Timothy Powers, and chaired by Amna Abulhoul. The session will be interspersed with clips from Anthony Geffen’s film ‘History of the Emirates’, a docuseries about the UAE.

Amna Abulhoul is the executive creative director at Expo city Dubai. Her experience spans over an array of roles such as creative conceptualization, theatre direction and creative.

Anthony Geffen is a BAFTA and Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker. He leads the Atlantic creative team and is a pioneer in multi-platform storytelling. He also teaches courses on immersive storytelling at NYUAD.

Prof. Timothy Power is an associate professor of archaeology at United Arab University, Abu Dhabi. Over the years, he has worked on the history and archaeology of many notable sites in the Emirates, including Qasr al-Muwaij‘i, al-Ain Museum, Qasr al-Hosn and Hatta Dam.

Prof. Peter Magee is currently the Director of the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi. He has over 25 years of experience in researching and promoting the cultural heritage of the United Arab Emirates and Arab world.

Junior Spotlight Session at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Enlightenment by Information

Speakers: Abdulrahman Alzaabi, Dr Ahmed Al Shoaibi, Mahnaz Fancy
Moderator: Sanam Yaqub
Time: 12:00 - 13:00
Language: English

How are education systems formed based on historical data? How are gaps identified and what determines these decisions? Why are archival systems important for the youth? What other ways are being appointed in disseminating knowledge to expatriates and the watching world?

In this session, academics & scholars from a social and humanities background and young Emiratis who have taken their own social responsibility of sharing knowledge and culture answer these questions, creating a compelling juxtaposition to their collective voices.

Abdulrahman Alzaabi, a US graduate with two academic degrees in engineering, is an Emirati tour guide sharing the local culture from Abu Dhabi. He currently works at HALCON Systems and in the past has worked at Abu Dhabi Government Media Office, ADNOC, and Masdar.

Dr Ahmed Al Shoaibi is the Professor of Chemical Engineering and Dean of Academic Affairs at the Petroleum Institute, Khalifa University. He is also the Acting Executive Director for Higher Education at Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK).

Mahnaz Fancy is a cultural studies scholar turned arts advisor with over 20 years of leadership roles in building US and UAE-based institutions engaged in the development of the MENASA cultural ecosystem. She is currently Principal Art Researcher at the UAE Ministry of Culture.

Sanam Yaqub is an educator, executive coach and mentor, with extensive teaching and leadership experience working within the UK and UAE education sectors. She is currently the School Partnership Strategies Manager at the University of Birmingham Dubai as well as the EDI lead for the campus. She is currently a member of the senior leadership team at the University of Birmingham Dubai, leading on Equality Diversity and Inclusion and on Strategic Partnership with schools across the UAE.

Programme Schedule


Science for Sustainability - Evolving Practices and Conventions

At the second event of this cultural series, researchers, innovators and field experts will join forces with climate change voices from libraries across the region.

They will offer insight on the current climate issues through the lens of scientific research with a focus on nature and social sciences. They will embark on a journey of inquiry, exploring subjects like sustainability and innovation. And how merging traditional architectural principles with cutting-edge technology has helped us build environmentally sustainable habitats.

The world’s landscape is changing rapidly. Are we evolving at a pace to match it?

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Sustainable Education in an Urban World

Speakers: Farid Esmaeil, Lina Ahmed, Maisa Jarjous, and Olivia Duncan
Moderator: Hareth Al Bustani
Time: 10:30 - 11:25
Language: English, with simultaneous translation in Arabic

Over the years, UAE has seen great changes in its landscape and infrastructure with cross-industrial collaboration by urban planners and sustainable living proponents.

In this session, our panelists will share insights on how the new generation of Emirati youth is shaping the narrative about life in the UAE, the measures they are taking to tackle climate change and the future of the nation in the areas of architecture, heritage and sustainability.

Farid Esmaeil is an architect, researcher, and entrepreneur. He co-founded X Architects, an award-winning design firm focused on contemporary societal and urban identity issues, in 2003. Farid's work has gained international recognition through awards, exhibitions, and lectures at renowned universities, including TEDx, Harvard, and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Lina Ahmad, is an Associate Professor and Chair of Design at Zayed University. Her award-winning research has been exhibited extensively including at the Smithsonian Institute’s Folklife Festival exhibition in Washington DC in 2022. Lina is passionate about UAE Modern Architectural Heritage, VR digital immersion, and is an advocate of digital fabrication technology and its impact on educational and creative industries in the region.

Maisa Jarjous is an award-winning architect and urban planner with over 15 years of experience in diverse architecture and master planning projects. She is a sustainability enthusiast, passionate about innovating sustainable living and enhancing communities. Her background in sustainable design and delivery drives her advocacy for climate change and memberships, reflecting her dedication to sustainability and community betterment.

Olivia Duncan is an architect and urbanist holding a Sustainable Urban Development MSc from Oxford University who is currently pursuing a PhD at UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture. Over the last twelve years, Olivia has worked in different roles within the Department of Municipalities and Transport, Abu Dhabi. She is currently a part of their Urban Design division as well as teaching at the local campus of Sorbonne University.

Hareth Al Bustani is an Emirati-Briton communications consultant, specialising in arts, culture and heritage in the Arabian Peninsula. He is also a published author, musician, coach and public speaker. He has also worked for 12 years as a journalist, most recently as Arts & Culture Editor at The National News.

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Navigating Net-Zero

Speaker: Andrew Dunnett, Farah Naz, and Zeina Al Hashmi
Moderator: Toby Gregory
Time: 11:30 - 12:25
Language: English, with simultaneous translation in Arabic

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) has become an increasingly vital measure for reviewing the ethical and environmental impact of corporate policies and investments.

This session will explore the global trends of ESG, as well as those unique to our region – notably public-private partnerships – in the context of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP28), which will be hosted by the UAE. It will also address the overarching question of how ESG is applied in the real world.

As VP Sustainability at Etisalat, Andrew Dunnett is an expert in external affairs, leading communication, regulation, security, and sustainability initiatives. He has previously championed Vodafone's ESG and sustainability efforts, focusing on Net Zero, DEI targets, and digital transformation. Andrew specialises in digital education, health, mobile finance, and charitable contributions, forging partnerships with governments, development agencies, and prominent funders.

Farah Naz is the regional Head of Innovation and ESG for Middle East and Africa at AECOM. She is a chartered engineer, award-winning climate change strategist, and co-author of the region’s first book on net zero cities. Farah has over 20 years experience in the built environment, having worked on iconic projects such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Bee’ah HQ in Sharjah, and the Museum of the Future, and Expo 2020 Sustainability Pavilion in Dubai.

Zeina Al Hashmi is a sustainability specialist. For over ten years, her focus has been developing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategies and enhancing corporate sustainability performance. Zeina believes small changes can have a big impact. This has fueled her enthusiasm to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle, focused on reducing waste. She is an advocate for conscious consumerism, inspiring change through behavior-based solutions and creative community initiatives.

Toby Gregory is an adventurer and environmental changemaker. He has spent his life traversing the world in search of challenges or protecting the planet including running the 82km “long stage” in Marathon Des Sable, exploring glaciers and swimming with icebergs near the Arctic circle. Gregory is also a crisis communications consultant and trusted advisor to royal families, government ministers, education institutions and organizations in the humanitarian sector, including UN entities across the world.

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Is Our Heritage Sustainable?

Speakers: Peter Jackson, and HE Rashad Bukhash
Chair: Fatima Alsuwaidi
Time: 12:50 - 13:45
Language: English, with simultaneous translation in Arabic

Wind towers, iconic symbols of the Arabian Gulf architecture, blend beauty and functionality, using wind for natural cooling in historic trading family homes. Can we integrate these traditions in contemporary urban design? Are they the answer to the climate question?

Local vernaculars blended beauty, and functionality for many family homes in the region. But how sustainable were these traditional building typologies? Amidst climate concerns and fears about the impact of global warming, can we, and should we incorporate local architectural traditions as a sustainable solution in contemporary urban design?

Our speakers will share their expert opinion and shed light on UAE's heritage in building design, reflecting on the importance of acknowledging and adopting the wisdom of a bygone era in the face of modern challenges.

Peter Jackson is an architect, historian and writer. He has written numerous articles on architectural history. His research for Windtower, co-authored with social geographer Anne Coles, began in 1974 with a detailed measured survey of a traditional house in Dubai. He is an architect advisor at the Ruler's Office in Sharjah where he has been involved with the planning and designing of multiple award-winning museums and visitor centres since 2007. In 2020, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

HE Rashad Bukhash is the former director of the Architectural Heritage Department at Dubai Municipality. He has supervised the conservation of more than 145 historic buildings across the emirates of Dubai, UAE and abroad. Bukhash also supervised the design and construction of more than 200 modern buildings, including universities, colleges, public buildings, parks and community facilities.

Fatima Al-Suwaidi is an Assistant Project Manager of Arts and Heritage Projects at the UAE's Ministry of Culture and Youth. As a member and rapporteur of the Technical Committee of Modern Heritage, she plays a vital role in preserving the cultural legacy of the Emirates, raising awareness around the topic, and strengthening its position locally, regionally, and globally.

Programme Schedule


Emirati History Day

This is a trip down memory lane to honour the United Arab Emirates and the remarkable individuals and events that have contributed to its success.

Using archival material including the written word, photographs, and films, we will commemorate the Emirate's history and we will celebrate the promising future of the nation through a theatrical performance.

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Living Histories

Session Overview: Living tribute to the heritage of our nation
Speakers: Major Ali Al Suwaidi, Dr Diya Al Janabi, Nujoom Al Ghanem
Moderator: Reem Al Menhali
Time: 6:40 - 7:20 pm
Language: Arabic, with simultaneous translation in English

From tales about the ancient art of pearl diving to journaling the intricate and invaluable role of women in the Emirati community, and the steadfast process of preservation of historic forts, UAE veterans are the custodians of the cultural treasures that make up the nation's rich history.

In this compelling and insightful exchange, our esteemed guests will unlock the repository of wisdom and knowledge, honoring the enduring legacy of the Emirates. This session serves as a living tribute to the heritage that defines our nation, where history and modernity seamlessly converge.

Dr Diya Aljanabi is a renowned Iraqi journalist, author, poet and professor at Ghent University. He has contributed to magazines in UAE and the region on cultural topics and plans to publish a book on the history of stamps and postal movement in the Emirates soon. He is a member of The General Union for the Literaries and Writers in Iraq, the World Union of Poets, the Federation of Journalists of Iraq and the Euro-Arab Organization for Cultural Exchange.

Nujoom Al Ghanem is an Emirati poet, artist, scriptwriter, and award-winning film director. She has published ten poetry collections in Arabic, which have been translated to English, French, Spanish, Turkish, Hindi and more. In 2019, she was the solo artist of the UAE National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. She was one of the founding members of the Emirates Writers’ Union in 1984.

Major Ali Al Suwaidi has been called ‘the UAE’s last pearl diver’. Growing up on the UAE’s pearling boats, he learned to love the ecology of the Gulf waters and is now President of the Emirates Marine Environmental Group.

Reem Al Menhali is an Emirati performance artist and theater practitioner. Her works include a collaborative piece co-created with Maitha Alsuwaidi titlted "Amulets of Palm", later adapted into a short film screened at Art Basel in Switzerland. Reem also wrote and directed "Deliberately and in Cash." Additionally, she co-created and wrote "Al Raheel | Departure," for which she received the 2020 Gulf Capital ADMAF Creativity Award.

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Through the Lens

Session Overview: A rare glimpse into the roots of Emirati identity
Speaker: Ramesh and Neel Shukla
Chair: Ahmed Al Enezi
Time: 7:25 pm - 8:05
Language: English, with simultaneous translation in Arabic

We pay homage to the roots of Emirati identity by showcasing the tireless work of our visual historians, and highlighting the enduring spirit of documentation in the ever-evolving tapestry of the UAE. How have these pictoral archivists seamlessly integrated cutting-edge technology and the age-old art of storytelling?

This session brings together an illustrious ensemble of photographers who have dedicated their lens to chronicling the UAE since the tumultuous 1960s, alongside contemporary visionaries who are passionately engaged in the timeless art of documentation and preservation.

Ramesh Shukla describes his destiny and his presence in the United Arab Emirates as being ‘in the right place at the right time’. His undivided devotion to the nation is reflected in his photographic collection accumulated over the past 50 years, capturing intimate aspects of life in the UAE. Shukla has received several awards, the most distinctive tribute being a gold plate presented to him on the twenty-sixth Accession Day of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The first national museum of the UAE, The Etihad Museum showcases permanent exhibition of Ramesh Shukla’s best historical photographic collection to date.

Neel Shukla, pioneered the establishment of the first regional Louvre Museum boutique in Dubai and curates commissioned sculptures and bespoke artworks for hotels, hospitals, and private residences. He has also successfully established a 100,000 sq. ft. art studio, framing workshop, and crafting atelier right here in Dubai, Four Seasons Ramesh Gallery, in conjunction with his father, Ramesh Shukla.

Ahmed Al Enezi is a consultant and advisor in cultural and creative strategies and programs under his business “The Contemporary Bedouin”, working with government entities and creative individuals and representing himself as a Visual Artist.
He has worked with Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, Expo 2015 Milan, Dubai Design and Fashion Council, Expo 2020 Dubai and Emirates Literature Foundation.

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Tribute to the Nation

Session Overview: Insight into the transformation of the Emirati art and culture scene
Time: 8:15 pm - 8:30 pm

In a mesmerizing blend of storytelling and performance, the members of the Sharjah Mime Band, who are hearing impaired and affiliated with SCHS Art for All (Falaj) Center, will celebrate the rich Emirati heritage and illuminate the path forward toward a more vibrant and inclusive artistic community in the Emirates.

Emirates Literature Foundation
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