Dubai: New publishing house announced

ELF Publishing will initially focus on fiction

Emirates Literature Foundation announces launch of new publishing house, ELF Publishing. Photo: Supplied
Emirates Literature Foundation announces launch of new publishing house, ELF Publishing. Photo: Supplied

By A Staff Reporter

Published: Wed 19 Jan 2022, 5:20 PM

The Emirates Literature Foundation has announced the launch of a new independent publishing house, ELF Publishing. With an initial focus on fiction, the publishing house will begin accepting submissions for consideration during the Month of Reading in March 2022.

The announcement was made at a press conference to reveal the final plans for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, taking place on February 3-13.

Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation, said, “ELF Publishing is the next piece of the jigsaw puzzle of the entire ecosystem of literature. It continues a proud tradition of literary endeavour. It is amazing to see what has been achieved in the last 50 years in the UAE in terms of literature, and for a young country, we have certainly been punching above our weight.”

The UAE has an impressive track record of championing literature through the pioneering work of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

The book fairs in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are both influential globally. Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi's prominent role in the industry as President of the International Publishers’ Association; and the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature being recognised as one of the leading international literature festivals in the world are other key achievements.

“This new venture augments these amazing achievements,” said Abulhoul. “It’s time that the world of publishing gave more attention internationally to the stories coming out of this region, and our aim is to shine a spotlight on the talent that flourishes here.

“We want to find the undiscovered stories that deserve to be read in today’s ever-changing world, whether from Emiratis or expats. What we are not is a vanity publisher. We will be selecting the stories that we believe deserve to be read, operating in the traditional way, with books chosen on merit.”

Titles will be published in Arabic and English, and in translation. Initial offerings will include the second anthology of stories from Voices of Future Generations Middle East, Young Voices of Arabia 2021, which will be launched at the festival in February 2022.

Among the first authors signed to the publishing house are Ebtisam Al Beiti and Julia Johnson, both of whom will be appearing at the 2022 Emirate Airline Festival of Literature.

Julia Johnson, an established children’s writer in the region, is teaming up with Maitha Al Khayat, who will create the illustrations.

Stories about the region from Emiratis and expats will be encouraged, and there will also be a particular attention on capturing the stories of times gone by and preserving the oral history of the region in written form.

Ahlam Bolooki, Managing Director of ELF Publishing and Festival Director, said: “The launch of the publishing house is a natural progression for us, completing the journey that began with the first festival in 2009.

“All of … (our) initiatives have made a significant improvement in the number of readers in the region. Starting from the premise that there are no readers without writers, it is now time to continue this symbiotic relationship with the Festival by turning our attention to authors, looking forward to the next 50 years of literary success.”


Covid safety

Organisers also announced key safety measures, which include thorough sanitisation, and limiting close contacts.

Visitors will be asked to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination, or a negative PCR taken within the previous 72 hours.

Top authors

Among the top names appearing at this year’s festival will be Gary Vee, Nadiya Hussain, David Walliams, Iman Mersal, Indra Nooyi, Azza Fahmy and Omar Saif Ghobash, who will be launching his first novel.

The ‘As Seen on Screen’ strand is proving to be very popular, with Bridgerton author Julia Quinn, House of Gucci author Sara Gay Forden, Chernobyl 1986 author Serhii Plokhy, and Ken Arto, animator of Demon Slayer, all live in-person to discuss bringing their work to worldwide attention via the spotlight of film and streaming channels.

The festival will begin with a dedicated Emirati Day on Thursday, February 3.

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