The festival, which celebrated its 10th anniversary and was held under the theme of ‘Memories’, concluded on the March 10 at Dubai Festival City, having hosted 180 authors from 50 countries.
The Kalimat authors were active from the beginning of the event until its conclusion. They were: Sahar Naja Mahfouz, author of ‘Where is My Voice’, ‘Mom is a Suitcase’ and many more; Dubai Abulhoul, author of the book series for children about djinn and Emirati folklore; Maitha Al Khayat, one of the UAE’s most popular authors, whose books include ‘Grandma the Fashionista’, ‘When the Camel Craves Crunchies’ and ‘Moms Amazing Socks’; Lebanese poet, songwriter, playwright and author of more than 40 books, Samar Barraj Mahfouz, author of “Famous by Chance” and translator of more than 27 books; Noora Khouri, an up-and-coming Emirati author of children’s books, including ‘Fanteer the Fluffy Flamingo’; and Mohannad al Akous, the award-winning author of children's and young adult books with a strong focus on children with special needs.
Maitha Al Khayat took part of the opening ceremony with a beautiful reading in Arabic and English from her book ‘When the Camel Craves Crunchies’. She also entertained and informed the young audiences in the first week with the story of a grandmother attending a Mardi Gras Emirati party who gets lost on a trip to Italy, inspired by her book ‘Grandma the Fashionista’.
Dubai Abulhoul, author of ‘Umm Al Subianne’ (The Mother of Two Boys), ‘Qawm Al Dasees’ (The Dasees Family) and ‘Khattaf Rifai’ (The Genie Khattaf Rifai), took part in two sessions. The first was the Arab Reading Challenge, which aimed to ignite a cultural renaissance by encouraging students across the Arab World to read for pleasure and develop Arabic language skills. This was followed by a session called ‘Future Folklore’, which discussed what our legends tell us about ourselves and why is it important to remember them.
Samar Mahfouz Barraj gave a masterclass on translating literature into Arabic, looking at the wide range of potential genres and topics with a focus on the key skills needed to bring the narrative to life in a different language while retaining its authenticity and cultural context. She also took part in book readings and activities.
Mouhannad Alakous held an adult masterclass on writing for children and how to turn precious memories into timeless children’s tales.
In his final session, Mouhannad told the story of a little Syrian boy who sees the sadness of the world through his window. Inspired by his father’s art, he starts drawing on the walls to show the world he dreams of, full of magic and colour. In this interactive session the author led a group in showing children how to open the windows of their own imaginations.
Lebanese author Sahar Naja Mahfouz, author of ‘Where is My Voice’, ‘Mom is a Suitcase’ and many more also presented readings and conducted sessions at the festival.
On the final day, Noura Al Khouri presented a story and craft workshop featuring a reading and a chance for youngsters to make their own character from the book which tells the tale of a little flamingo who gets lost on an island after playing hide and seek with his friend the crab.
Since its inception, Kalimat Group has participated in 50 international book fairs worldwide and distributed its books in more than 16 countries and 3,000 schools. The group prides itself on publishing the highest-quality Arabic books, 30 of which have won prestigious Arab and international awards. Kalimat Group has collaborated with more than 120 authors and 100 illustrators from around the world. Fifty of its books were translated from Arabic into foreign languages. So far, Kalimat Group has published more than 400 Arabic titles.