Voices of Future Generations – Tell us your Story!
February 17, 2020, 12:47 pm
Isobel Abulhoul is the CEO of the Emirates Literature Foundation and the founder of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the Arab World’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word. Isobel has received a great number of awards and accolades over the years for her work She also co-founded the beloved Magrudy’s bookshop back in 1975.
We talked to her about the Voices of Future Generations (VOFG), a programme under the patronage of UNESCO. VOFG aims to give children worldwide a platform to share their ideas on how they would like their future worlds to look like. The Emirates Literature Foundation is the proud consultant for the programme.
1.Tell us about yourself and Voices of Future Generations Middle East
My name is Isobel Abulhoul, and I am the CEO and Trustee of Emirates Literature Foundation. I came to Dubai in 1968 and co-founded Magrudy’s, a bookshop chain, in 1975.
In 2008, my passion for sharing the love of literature far and wide led to the founding of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the Arab World’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word. The Festival brings together people of all ages with authors from across the world to promote education, inspiration, debate and, above all else, reading. The Festival has won numerous awards and is one of the best loved events in the UAE.
In 2013, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai issued a Decree forming the Emirates Literature Foundation, naming me as one of the trustees on the Board – allowing us to work on fantastic year-round initiatives such as Voices of Future Generations, among others.
Voices of Future Generations is a unique writing initiative under the patronage of UNESCO, created to promote the UN Convention on the ‘Rights of the Child’ and Sustainability through the creation of short adventure stories written by young children.
2. As the world becomes increasingly more aware about climate change, have you perceived a coupling transformation in literature?
Absolutely! There are many authors and personalities who are focusing on sustainability overall and making a conscious effort to change the way we live. We can only make a difference when we join forces and work collectively.
Voices of Future Generations is a programme that has actually been developed to give children a voice about their hopes, dreams and aspirations for a sustainable future – all through the written word.
The hunt is on for original and imaginative adventure stories that draw attention to children’s rights and sustainability. The focus is on creativity and imagination, with stories focused on characters that overcome something, as all good adventure tales do – and will encourage the children writing and reading them, to take steps to protect their own futures.
3. What is the Emirates Literature Foundation and what are the main goals of the organization?
The Emirates Literature Foundation is a not-for-profit non-governmental organisation that supports and nurtures a love of literature in the UAE and across the region through a programme of varied cultural initiatives.
Recognising the distinctive contribution that literature makes to children’s lives, the Foundation focuses on introducing and cultivating a spirit of reading while acting as a catalyst for writing and cultural exchange.
In addition to the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the foundation has implemented a School Librarian of the Year Award, a year-round Education Programme, stand-alone events, book clubs, creative writing courses, and more.
4.What is the Emirates Literature Foundation doing to deepen the culture of sustainability among the community?
We strive to be a sustainable organisation. That means we are constantly looking at how we can reduce the amount of the Earth’s resources we use, reuse the things we can’t do without, and recycle the materials when we can no longer use them.
But that is not all. We believe our responsibility as a Foundation and as a Festival of Literature goes further.
We are a meeting point for new thoughts and ideas. Our audiences come to our events to discover something new, and when they leave, they are changed from the experience.
Through our programme of events and our initiatives, we take an active role in giving people the opportunity to think deeply about their impact on our communities and our planet. We are proud to have welcomed some of the world’s greatest conservationists, environmentalists, and advocates for sustainability. We believe hearing speakers like Jane Goodall, David Attenborough, Majid Al Qassimi, The Green Sheikh and many more, is a powerful part of the education process which will ultimately help change the way we live. We are committed to continuing to invite the writers and speakers that make a difference.
Emirates Literature Foundation also strives to minimise its environmental impact through sustainable supply chain management. Our Green Procurement Strategy gives preference to environmentally-preferable products, with an ultimate aim to actively stimulate market demand for eco-friendly products and services.
We have a staged implementation programme of environmentally-friendly practices across the organisation including, energy-efficient lighting, upgrading to energy-efficient office equipment, as well as extensive recycling initiatives for paper, plastic, metal, and glass.
5.Tell us more about Voices of Future Generations and why the Middle East is now taking part in it.
For the first time, the Gulf region will be taking part in the competition under the patronage of HH Sheikha Hissa Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the Goodwill Ambassador for the Gulf Region, and the Emirates Literature Foundation is the consultant for the initiative.
Winners will have the chance to join a global council of prize-winning child authors, and have their work featured online and in inspirational books that will be sent to schools and libraries throughout the world
The competition is open until April 25th 2020 and the Emirates Literate Foundation team are hosting regular workshops for teachers and parents, and of course children to guide them in their creative writing journey.
The initiative welcomes submissions in Arabic and English, and aims to shortlist the most promising stories from the region and help find our next winning child author.
For more information on registration and story guidelines visit https://www.elfdubai.org/en/vofg