Latest talk from Literary Conversations Across Borders look at where fact meets fiction when we retell history
United Arab Emirates – 13 July 2020: ‘Legend, Myth and History – Where can we draw a line?’ is the title of the next discussion in the Literary Conversations Across Borders digital series, with historian, broadcaster and writer Bettany Hughes, Peter Hellyer, an expert on the UAE’s history, and chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage, Abdulaziz Al Musallam, one of the most popular folklore writers in the UAE. They will examine where fact meets fiction, and the responsibility placed on historians in uncovering the truth, on Saturday, 18 July 2020 at 19:30.
Bettany Hughes has brought many historical topics to life in her acclaimed television series. Her latest book, Venus & Aphrodite examines the complicated roots of the Roman and Greekdeities as well as what they meant to classical civilisations. Peter Hellyer is author and editor of nearly 20 books on the UAE’s archaeology, history and environment. He was Executive Director from 1993-2005 of the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey, ADIAS, which discovered several of the UAE’s most important archaeological sites, including a pre-Islamic Christian monastery, Neolithic villages and a five million year old trackway of fossil elephant footprints. Dr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam is a poet and a writer and has worked on folklore including fairy tales, oral history and Nabati Poetry and regularly writes essays and editorials on these subjects for leading Arabic newspapers and periodicals.
The debate, the latest event in the Literary Conversations Across Borders series, uses a digital platform to host Emirati writers and commentators in live discussions with high profile experts from around the world. The latest talk celebrated the UAE making history with the launch of the Hope Probe mission to Mars, featuring H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh, Minister of State and Dr. Farouk El-Baz, NASA space scientist and geologist and was moderated live from Japan by Salem AlMarri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC.
The inaugural event of Literary Conversations Across Borders saw more than 3,500 people from 46 countries register and able to tune in to the live event which also featured H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh in a debate with Indian politician Shashi Tharoor on how the events of 2020 will change the course of history.
Other sessions included H.E. Omar Ghobash and journalist Lesley Hazleton as they debated the impact of the pandemic on faith and belief systems, and celebrated environmentalist Dr. Jane Goodall and H. E. Mariam bint Mohammed Al Mheiri Minister of State for Food Security on how the pandemic might influence global food supply challenges and the natural world. The series also incuded an international poetry exchange featuring the UAE’s Afra Atiq, Colombian American Carlos Andrés Gómez , and British Ethiopian Lemn Sissay, while Christina Lamb, award winning journalist from the Sunday Times, considered how news reporting has changed in the last ten years with UAE political commentator Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi.
The Literary Conversations Across Borders project is a new initiative to promote international cultural understanding through the power of books and words launched by the UAE Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy and the Emirates Literature Foundation.
There are eight sessions in this first Literary Conversations Across Borders series. Further details and more authors will be announced shortly.
The sessions are free to watch but pre-registration is required at www.elfdubai.org/en/literary-conversations-across-borders
After the event the session will be hosted on the Emirates Literature Foundation YouTube channel. Full details on the upcoming programme will be available on the OPCD opcd.ae and Emirates Literature Foundation elfdubai.org websites.
Historian, writer and presenter Bettany Hughes has written about Socrates, Helen ofTroy and the history of Istanbul, as well as presented TV series on many historical topics, most recently ancient Egypt. Her latest book, Venus & Aphrodite examines the
complicated roots of the Roman & Greek deities as well as what they meant to
Dr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam
Abdulaziz Al Musallam is a poet and a writer from Sharjah, UAE. He is the Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage. Al Musallam has worked on folklore including fairy tales, oral history and Nabati Poetry. He is considered the most popular folklore writers in the UAE and has published three collections of poetry and nine books on culture and heritage. His work includes Safar el Layali (1990), Baqaya el Lail (1995) and Tofolat Hob wa Salam (1998).
He has also written several books including Al Zakera al Shabya (1999), Al Azyaa wa al zina (2001), Al Lahjah al Emarateya (2001), Bu Ahmed (2005), Rashed al Shoq (2002), Marawed (2002), Bosmah (2002), Madaaen al Reeh (Wind Cities) published in 2004, Marames (2004) and Sharjah (2005).
Al Musallam is a founding member of the Architectural Heritage Society established in 2003, and a member of the Sharjah National Theater. He has participated in many Arabic and international symposia, conferences and forums on cultural heritage, folklore and history and is regularly writes essays and editorials on these subjects for leading Arabic newspapers and periodicals.
Peter Hellyer is an Adviser at the UAE’s National Media Council. He was Executive Director from 1993-2005 of the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey, ADIAS, which discovered several of the UAE’s most important archaeological sites, including a pre-Islamic Christian monastery, Neolithic villages and a five million year old trackway of fossil elephant footprints. He is author and editor of nearly 20 books on the UAE’s archaeology, history and environment.
About the Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy (OPCD)
The Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy (OPCD) is a coordinating entity that supports the objectives of United Arab Emirates diplomatic missions around the world through arts and culture programming, research and content design. OPCD is dedicated to promoting UAE heritage and values and facilitating cross-cultural dialogue in the service of improved global cooperation and international prosperity.
About the Emirates Literature Foundation:
The Emirates Literature Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which supports and nurtures a love of literature in the United Arab Emirates and the region, through a programme of varied cultural initiatives.
Established in 2013 by Royal Decree issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Foundation aims to foster a love for literature, with a focus on the Arabic language.
In line with the National Reading Policy of the UAE, the Foundation has implemented several long-term projects including the School Librarian of the Year Award and the annual Arabic Language Week, as well as conducting year-round student education programmes, book clubs and creative writing courses. The Foundation’s previous initiatives included the 2016 Dubai Translation Conference and the 2017 Dubai International Publishing Conference, which hosted a number of international participants.
The Foundation is also the governing body of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the UAE’s premier literary festival, which will be held 2– 6 February, 202
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