Daete : Tuesday 28 July, 2020

Time: Dubai 18:00 GST, UK/Nigeria 15:00 BST, Italy 16:00, New Delhi 19:30 IST, New York 10:00 EDT

    Literary festivals, through literature, can open hearts and minds and play a role in helping us all view the world in a different way. However some audiences are only interested in the familiar - how do we challenge them to engage with an ethnically diverse programme, breaking down stereotypes regarding religion and race? Many festivals already have dual language, multi-ethnic programmes, championing indigenous populations and reflecting their demographic. How do we go beyond this to make sure we are truly embracing diversity?



    Ahlam Bolooki : The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature


    Ahlam Bolooki is the Director of the Emirates Festival of Literature - the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word. With a mission of inspiring all, including non-readers, to read for pleasure, Ahlam is responsible for devising strategy and curating a diverse, inclusive and enlightening Festival programme. With appeal to audiences of all ages and backgrounds, the Festival attracts fresh ideas, forward thinking and promotes a more empathetic society.

    Prior to her role with the Festival, Ahlam was the Head of Regional Campaigns at Dubai Tourism - the principal authority responsible for strengthening Dubai’s positioning as a world-leading tourism destination.

    Ahlam also spent over four years working in marketing roles at global hospitality group, Jumeirah Group, during which she oversaw all aspects of marketing and communication for a portfolio of over 60 restaurants in 10 cities worldwide.



    Lola Shoneyin : AKE Arts and Book Festival, Nigeria


    Kaduna Book and Arts Festival

    Lola Shoneyin's works includes three books of poems: So All the Time I Was Sitting on an Egg(1997), Song of a Riverbird (2002) and For the Love of Flight (2010); and a 3 children's books titled Mayowa and the Masquerades (2010) Do As You are Told, Baji (2019) and Iyaji, the Housegirl (2019). Her debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2011 and went on to win the PEN Oakland 2011 Josephine Miles Literary Award and the Ken Saro Wiwa Prose Prize.

    Shoneyin is the founder of Book Buzz Foundation—an NGO that is devoted to promoting literacy, creating reading spaces, and organising cultural And Arts-focused events such as the Ake Arts & Book Festival, and the Kaduna Book & Arts Festival which takes place in Northern Nigeria. 

    In 2016, she founded Ouida Books—a Nigerian publishing house. She also runs one of the best-stocked bookstores in Nigeria. Shoneyin is currently working on her second novel, and a series of children’s picture books set in northern Nigeria. 



    Sanjoy Roy : Teamwork Arts/Jaipur Literature Festival, India

    Sanjoy K. Roy, an entrepreneur of the arts, is the Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, which produces over 33 highly acclaimed performing arts, visual arts and literary festivals across 40 cities in countries such as Australia, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, UK and USA, including the world’s largest free literary gathering — the annual Jaipur Literature Festival. Roy has received the National Award for Excellence and Best Director for the film Shahjahanabad: The Twilight Years. 


    He is a founder trustee of Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) working to provide support services for street and working children in the inner city of Delhi where over 55,000 children have benefited from education, training and residential services. In 2011, the White House presented SBT the US President’s Committee of Arts and Humanities Award for an International Organisation. 


    Roy works closely with various industry bodies and Government on policy issues within the Creative Industries and Cultural Sector in India and is a senior office bearer on several committees working on policy infrastructure for the creative industries - he is Co-chair of the Art and Culture Committee of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and former President of Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) and an advisor to the Arts Council of England Diversity board for theatre. He is on the advisory council of various International Agencies, Federations and Universities.


    Roy has lectured and works in collaboration with Universities including those of Western Australia, DUT, Brisbane, Monash, University of Chicago, Harvard, MIT Media lab, Admas, Symbiosis, University of Houston, Columbia College, London School of Economics, University of York, Swansea, etc.




    Syima Aslam : Bradford Literature Festival, UK


    Syima Aslam is the founder and Director of the Bradford Literature Festival (BLF), established in 2014. In just five years the festival has grown to a 10 day literary and cultural celebration, welcoming 70,000 visitors to Bradford annually. 




    Julia Wheeler


    Julia Wheeler is an experienced journalist and interviewer who worked for the BBC for more than 15 years, including as the BBC’s Gulf Correspondent, based in the UAE between 2000 and 2010.  She continues to work as a freelance journalist, for broadcast and print, in London.

    Julia has moderated large-scale conferences and chaired inter-governmental forums. She is chair and interviewer at several festivals including Cheltenham (Literature and Science), Stanford’s Travel Writers Festival at London’s Olympia and the Stratford Literary Festival. She has chaired events at The British Library and onboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

    Julia wrote the award-winning book Telling Tales: An Oral History of Dubai, capturing stories of court intrigue, pearl diving and gold smuggling, plus the early days of education and banking.  She is an alumna of the Faber Academy and writes fiction.

    Julia read Economic and Social History before postgraduate study in Broadcast Journalism at City University, London.