Hay Festival comes to Abu Dhabi next month

By DG Staff

General View, Hay Sign

ABU DHABI 11 January 2020: Hay Festival has announced the line-up for the first edition of Hay Festival Abu Dhabi (25-28 February 2020), featuring a range of award-winning writers, journalists, historians, film-makers and artists in an international programme spanning nearly 100 events over four days.

The festival spotlights the latest ideas in the arts, sciences and current affairs, with over 20 nationalities and 7 languages represented. The programme reflects the diversity of communities in Abu Dhabi itself, including writers from all around the Middle East, North Africa, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, China, Nigeria and Europe. A vibrant programme for schools will welcome over 70 local schools, inspiring and entertaining thousands of local students aged 7-16 years in Arabic, English, Hindi and Tagalog.

The four-day celebration will feature agenda-setting conversations from some of the world’s finest writers and liveliest minds, addressing the world as it is and as it might be. Film screenings in partnership with BBC News Arabic will reflect current social and political situations in the Arab world, while live performances of music and poetry will open and close the festival, and a welcoming free-to-enter festival site with a dedicated bookshop will extend the reach of the festival to a wide audience.

Peter Florence, Hay Festival Director, commented: “Our programme for the first Hay Festival Abu Dhabi brings together some of the most eminent voices in the region, and the world. We have four nights and four days to engage in conversation, to meet and dream, share stories and imagine the world. I believe this is the most exciting time in living memory for contemporary Arabic Literature, and the Festival will be a showcase for great writing from across the Arab world, a platform for inspiring voices from many languages, and a meeting place where the world of tomorrow might be shaped”.

Cristina Fuentes La Roche, Hay Festival International Director, said: “Our return to the Middle East will be marked by an extraordinary range of stories, where discussion of the climate crisis, geopolitics, and advances in science sit alongside the latest works of imagination from leading novelists and children’s writers. As we invite some of the best writers and thinkers from the Arab world and further afield to share ideas and stories, we welcome audiences young and old to join the conversation. Our late-night line up of performances will also ensure that the first ever Hay Festival Abu Dhabi will be an unforgettable party”.

Hay Festival aims to establish a long-term presence in the Arabic-speaking world from its newest platform in Abu Dhabi, building on the success of its three editions in Beirut (2009-2012) and the publication of its celebrated anthology of short stories by the best Arab writers under the age of 39, many of whom are now distinguished authors and journalists, in collaboration with Beirut World Book Capital 2009.

Hay Festival Abu Dhabi joins the global family of Festivals and forums programmed by the Hay Festival in more than 30 locations worldwide. Forthcoming Festivals include Hay Festival Medellín (Colombia), Hay Festival Arequipa (Peru), Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye (Wales), Hay Festival Europa 28, Rijeka (Croatia, for Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture), Hay Festival Segovia (Spain), Hay Festival Forum Dallas (Texas, USA), and Hay Festival Querétaro (Mexico).