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Watch: Emirates Literature Foundation launches new publishing house

Dubai: ELF Publishing LLC, a new independent publishing house that “will champion exceptional storytelling in Arabic and English”, was launched by the Emirates Literature Foundation (ELF) on Wednesday in Dubai.

“ELF Publishing will discover new voices from the UAE – whether Emirati or expat – who write stories in English or Arabic that have international appeal,” Ahlam Bolooki, managing director of ELF Publishing, told Gulf News.

“We look forward to discovering more Arabic fictional stories and new literature that can be translated into English and have global appeal,” she added.

With an initial focus on fiction across all genres, ELF Publishing will begin accepting submissions for review in March during Reading Month. Stories about the region from Emiratis and expatriates are encouraged, and special attention will also be given to capturing stories from the past and preserving the oral history of the region in written form.

Natural progression

Bolooki, who is also the Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature which takes place at Habtoor City hotels from February 3 to 13, said: “The launch of ELF Publishing is a natural progression for us, completing the journey that has started with the first party in 2009.

Ahlam Bolooki, Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and Managing Director of ELF Publishing
Image credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

“We have supported area readers and writers with a myriad of initiatives, including our education program and student competitions; Writing Classes, Emirates LitFest Writing Award and First Chapter: ELF Seddiqi Writers Fellowship, School Librarian of the Year Award; the prison project “From the Inside Out”, Voices of Future Generations, and Kateb Maktub, which is our partnership with Wikipedia.

She added: “All of these initiatives have led to a significant improvement in readership in the region, and on the principle that there are no readers without writers, now is the time to continue this symbiotic relationship with the festival. turning our attention to authors, looking forward to the next 50 years of literary success.

Literary ecosystem

Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Administrator of ELF, said, “ELF Publishing is the next piece of the puzzle for the entire literature ecosystem. It carries on a proud tradition of literary endeavours. It’s amazing to see what has been achieved in the last 50 years in the United Arab Emirates in terms of literature and for a young country we have certainly punched above our weight.

She added that ELF Publishing increases the UAE’s achievements and track record in literature advocacy through the pioneering work of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah; as well as the establishment of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair and the Sharjah World Book Fair; Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi’s prominent role in the industry as President of the International Association of Publishers; and the Emirates Airline Literature Festival.

Abulhoul added, “What we are not is a conceited publisher. We will select stories that we believe are worth reading, operating in the traditional way, with books chosen on merit. We want to find the undiscovered stories worth reading in today’s ever-changing world, whether they come from Emiratis or expats.

Titles will be published in Arabic and English. Initial offerings will include Voices of Future Generations Middle East’s second story anthology, Young Voices of Arabia 2021, which will launch at LitFest next month.

First authors

Among the first authors signed with the publishing house are Ebtisam Al Beiti and Julia Johnson, who will both be participating in the 2022 Emirates Airline Literature Festival. Julia Johnson, a children’s writer based in the region, is teaming up with Maitha Al Khayat, who will create the illustrations for Julia’s new book, in what ELF Publishing hopes will be the first of many collaborations in the region.

letter festival

Meanwhile, organizers have also announced details of the upcoming Emirates Airline Literature Festival. It will start with a day dedicated to the Emirates on February 3. Special events will include dinner with Italian chef Alessandro Borghese and a not-to-be-missed feast à la Dickens (Charles Dickens novels). There will also be performances from spoken word artists and international 2021 authors such as Brit Bennet and Lucy Foley, who had huge best-sellers with their novels The Vanishing Half and The Guest List.

There will also be experts from the worlds of science, history and art. Popular writer Mark Billingham will be in attendance as well as actor Ben Miller, who played Lord Archibald Featherington in Bridgerton. YouTuber Ahmed El Ghandour, aka Al Da7ee7; and thriller master David Baldacci who will join the Festival virtually.

NAT 220119 Emirates Lit Fest CE016-1642594032809

(L to R) Dr Saeed Mubarak Kharbash Al Marri, CEO of Arts and Literature at Dubai Culture; Ahlam Bolooki, Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and Managing Director of ELF Publishing; Boutros Boutros, Divisional Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand at Emirates Group
Image credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Top names

Other big names at this year’s literature festival are Gary Vee, Nadiya Hussain, David Walliams, Iman Mersal, Indra Nooyi, Azza Fahmy and Omar Saif Ghobash, who will be releasing his first novel. Bridgerton author Julia Quinn, House of Gucci author Sara Gay Forden, Chernobyl 1986 author Serhii Plokhy and Demon Slayer host Ken Arto will all be live to discuss their works.

The organizers also promised a “dynamic and interactive program to entertain children, as well as workshops for all ages covering poetry, creative writing and storytelling, drawing and illustration”.

The festival will comply with all current COVID-19 regulations, and visitors will be asked to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination, or a negative PCR taken within 72 hours. Visit the festival website to purchase tickets and get the full list of authors.

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