The fifth edition of the Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre (DFYT), a one-of-its-kind initiative held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), to promote youth theatre talent in the UAE, will honour one of the Arab theatre world’s professionals, Yahya Al-Haj as ‘Personality of the Year.’
The ‘Personality of the Year’ honour will be presented to the accomplished professional at the closing ceremony of the much-awaited festival, held from October 1 to 12, 2011.
The first non-Emirati to be honoured by the Festival, Al-Haj has strong contributions to the development of Arabic theatre with a focus on training young and emerging talent. He started his career as a teaching assistant specialised in acting and directing in Khartoum, Sudan.
Al-Haj has participated in numerous festivals regionally and internationally including, the Arab Authority for Theatre in Beirut and the International Book Fair in Damascus. He also assisted with workshops for the play Comoros (2009), worked with the Al Ahli Local Theatre Club in Dubai, and provided directorial assistance for the play, Alexander The Great. He has conducted in-depth research in the field of theatre and acting, and has contributed to works on theatre prepared by the UAE Ministry of Education.
Yasser Al Gergawi, Manager of Performing Arts, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said: “With over forty years of experience in Arabic theatre, Yahya Al-Haj is a true inspiration for youngsters, who look up to his body of work for inspiration. He has made lasting contribution to shape the modern theatre movement in the UAE. His emphasis on research and training has been invaluable in grooming the current generation of theatre artists. We are privileged to honour him with the ‘Personality of the Year’ award this year.”
Al-Haj has also played an integral role in shaping Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre since its inception, providing valuable support to ensure its smooth conduct as well as evaluating the critiquing seminars that are held before the plays. He has also applied his knowledge of theatre to shape the presentations, workshops, and courses that are offered to young theatre talent as part of the Festival.
Specialising in performing arts, research, and critiquing, Al-Haj currently serves on the jury of the Arab Theatre Competition in Cairo and the Emirates Children’s Theatre Festival. He is also a member of the Kuwaiti Theatre of Arbitration, the Playwrights in the UAE, as well as works on evaluating and licensing theatrical performances at the Sharjah Theatre Festival. Officially the Theatre Expert in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, he also served on the jury of the fourth edition of the Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre.
The fifth edition of the Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre focuses on promoting Emirati and Arab theatre artists by providing a dedicated platform to showcase their talent in addition to sharpening their skills through critique sessions led by experts