British Council Collaborates with Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature to Bring Critically Acclaimed Author to Dubai

Published March 11th, 2010 - 01:14 GMT

British Council UAE announced today the sponsorship of award-winning author, Chris Cleave, in collaboration with Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature (EAFL), as part of its mission to promote reading through inter-cultural dialogue between the UAE and the UK.

The collaboration brings together His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision of eradicating illiteracy from the Arab World, and the British Council’s strategic emphasis on activities that build awareness of the importance of literature and reading through cultural and educational exchange.

“In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, eradication of illiteracy from the Arab World remains a primary goal in the schemes that British Council is associated with. We strive to develop innovative, high-quality events, and collaborations that link artists and cultural institutions from around the world – drawing them into a closer relationship with the UK, while highlighting the significance of literature in the Arab world,” said Michel Bechara, Director of Projects, UAE, British Council.

British Council works with professional partners to bring innovative work to the communities it reaches through festivals, performances, and exhibitions, in addition to a wide range of projects, programmes, workshops, and seminars in a bid to build inter-cultural dialogue and exchange.

Data from last year’s EAFL shows it was highly successful in encouraging people to read, with more than 70 percent of festival-goers saying they would be more likely to pick up a book and read it following their attendance. This alone is a huge endorsement of the power of literary festivals to help foster a love of reading and over time create a culture of reading.

“We are delighted to collaborate with EAFL to sponsor renowned author Chris Cleave’s attendance at this year’s event. Cleave has a multitude of interesting work experiences from which he can draw and share with visitors to the event in Dubai – educating, enlightening, and entertaining,” continued Bechara.

Cleave, who is appearing at EAFL on Friday 12 March at 12.30pm, has led a multi-faceted life, which is something that seeps through the words he writes. He was born in England 1973, and grew up between Cameroon and Buckinghamshire. The contrast between both countries and cultures is vast, making Cleave a true citizen of the world. He has worked as a bartender, a long-distance sailor, a teacher of marine navigation, and a journalist.

Cleave’s debut novel, Incendiary,  won multiple international literary awards, including the United States Book-of-the-Month Club’s First Fiction Award 2005, the 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, and the Prix Special du Jury at the French Prix des Lecteurs 2007. It was also shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, and has been made into a film. Cleave has since published his second novel, The Other Hand (entitled Little Bee in the USA and Canada), which has also been extremely well received by readers.

“Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is committed to building mutually beneficial partnerships that promote literacy and encourage reading development. We are very pleased to be working with British Council again this year to reach new multi-cultural audiences, through engagement and open dialogue,” said Jeremy Brinton, Operations Director, Emiorates Airlines Festival of Literature.

EAFL is the first literary festival of its status and size in the whole of the Middle East. It is a high calibre event, which aims to bring together more than 80 critically acclaimed authors to encourage home-bred Arabic and English talent, to provide a platform for Middle Eastern authors and translators, and to create a family friendly atmosphere with events for all age groups.


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