Inmates pen personal stories from Dubai jail

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The collection will be published at this year's Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

By Sarwat Nasir

Published: Mon 13 Jan 2020, 11:13 AM

Last updated: Tue 14 Jan 2020, 11:05 AM

Prisoners in the Dubai Central Jail have penned their personal stories and the collection will be published at this year's Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in the form of a book.
Authors with the festival worked with 27 female and male inmates for three years, spreading awareness of books and helping them write personal and fiction stories. These writings have been put together in a book, titled 'Tomorrow I Will Fly'.
The 12th edition of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will take place at the Intercontinental Hotel Festival City from February 4 to 11.
"They taught them how to love reading and how to spend their time productively. It started from there and then the authors did workshops to teach them how to write. And what we discovered was that 27 inmates had the talent of writing and their work will be published," said Lt Colonel Jamila Khalifa Salem Alzaabi, the Director of Dubai Women's Jail.
"It's helped them a lot because it's helped them find themselves. These inmates feel lost but with this initiative, they feel new. We haven't jailed them just so they can be handcuffed, we want them to learn and prepare them better for the outside world. They can go to school and college," Lt Colonel Alzaabi said.

Authors associated with the festival have been visiting the prisons every month for the past three years to promote books and help them with reading and writing.

Lt Colonel Alzaabi said it's been helping the prisoners improve their mental health as many of them have been writing down their personal journeys.

One of the authors that conducted the workshops and helped the inmates with their writing is Annabel Kantaria.

She said the title of the book was inspired by a Ugandan inmate who flew in an airplane only once in her life, and that was when she came to Dubai.

"It's one of the most touching stories. She was born and raised in a remote village in Uganda. They didn't have electricity or roads and she had never been to a big city," Kantaria said. "She ended up getting a job at the airport. Her whole family dropped off at the airport, but then she ended up in jail. Her writings share her journey."

Kantaria added that this experience the inmates had can help them secure employment once they are released.

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