Hybrid 2021 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair Announces Key Events

Organizers of the 2021 hybrid Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, set for May 23-29, have announced select events from the fair, which — for the first time — will be live-streamed free for audiences around the world:

From the 2019 fair; image courtesy Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Headlining writers and translators include 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction laureate Tayari Jones, American Translation Award-winning and International Prize for Arabic Fiction-longlisted novelist Iraqi novelist Muhsin al-Ramli, Booker International-winning translator Marilyn Booth, and Sheikh Zayebd Book Award-winning translator Michael Cooperson.

There will also be two awards celebrated: The Sheikh Zayed Book Award ceremony is set for May 24 at 6 p.m. GST, while the International Prize for Arabic Fiction will be announced in an online ceremony on May 25.

Later today, there will also be an IPAF shortlist event, featuring 2021 judge Ayesha Sultan speaking on Notebooks of the Bookshop Keeper by Jalal Bargas. It’s set for 6 p.m. GST, and the event will be hosted by Moroccan writer Yassin Adnan.

All times in the events below are in GST.


Sunday May 23, 14:00-16:00

Arab World Publishing: Spotlight on Respect 

Language: In Arabic 

An international conference on the challenges of respect within the industry –rights of authors and publishers, the wants and needs of readers and the emergence of pressing social, political and environmental issues. Who is best placed to tackle these challenges and what support can the industry as a whole give to those with that responsibility? The panel will discuss their ideas and answer questions from the wider audience joining digitally from around the globe.

Mohamed Al Fraih – Obeikan Publishing

Mohammed Rashad – Arab Publishers Association

Khaled Alnassiry  Almutawassit Publishing.

Bassam Chebaro – Arab Scientific Publishers

Moderated by: Iman Ben Chaibah, Vice President of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA)


Monday May 24, 20:00-21:00

The Art of Translation: My Words, Your Voice

Language: In English

How do you faithfully reproduce someone else’s writing into a different language? Our trio of experts Marilyn BoothHamed Al Ghaithi and Michael Cooperson explain the art of translation, the relationship they have with the author and how feeling and creative writing are expressed in another tongue. This challenging job is beset with many difficult choices and compromises from both author and translator. Hear how these experienced translators achieve the balance.

Moderator: Bilal Orfali


Tuesday May 25, 15:00 – 17:00

Writing Masterclass in Arabic with Muhsin Al Ramli

Language: Arabic

Workshop from acclaimed author sharing his knowledge with new writers.  In this masterclass Muhsin Al Ramli will support those wanting to write in Arabic and share some of the wisdom discovered during his own writing journey. With support and excellent advice, you will come away from this session inspired.


Tuesday May 25, 19:00

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award 

Interviews with the winner and shortlisted authors.


Thursday May 27, 12:00

The State of Literature During the Pandemic

Language: In Arabic

With national lockdowns and travel restrictions forcing us to spend more time at home, did we turn to books to escape the woes of the pandemic? The generosity of the pages of a book, be it fiction or fact, can transport us to new places, stretch our minds and settle our restless souls. Literature during the pandemic has been heralded as the calm many of us have needed, but is that true? Panelists Taleb Alrefai and Eman Alyousuf will explore these questions and more.

The session will be moderated by Ghaith Hassan Alhosani, who works at Sharjah Public Libraries, and is also a board member and chairman of the Reading and Innovation Committee of the Emirates Library and Information Association.


Thursday May 27, 18:00

 IPAF: Honouring the 2021 winner and shortlisted authors

Language: In Arabic

To celebrate the 2021 winner and shortlisted authors, Bilal Orfali will interview each guest, track their journey from idea to finished book and let them share their experiences with our audience.

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) is the most prestigious and important literary prize in the Arab world.

The shortlisted authors are: Abdelmajid Sebbata, Abdulatif Ould Abdullah, Dunya Mikhail, Habib Selmi, Jalal Bargas, Amira Ghenim.


Friday May 28, 19:00

Sultan Al Amimi: A Blue Creature, Or Maybe

Language: Arabic

Join us for this enjoyable conversation with Emirati author Sultan Al Amimi, in which he will introduce his new short story collection A Blue Creature or Maybe

He will also discuss how the short story form offers some unique benefits to the writer in terms of brevity, voice, and opportunities to introduce the reader to unusual topics and aspects of society, catching their curiosity and encouraging them to read between the lines. 

Sultan Al Amimi is an Emirati writer, researcher and storyteller who has published twenty-two popular culture and poetry books in different languages and dialects. The event will be moderated by Emirati author Salha Obaid.