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As part of the 19th edition of its flagship Abu Dhabi Festival, the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) is partnering with The Middle East Institute (MEI) Arts and Culture Center to present a two-day virtual literary festival, Narrating The Middle East: The D.C. Arab Literature Festival, taking place Tuesday, 17 May and Wednesday 18 May, 2022.

Held in partnership with the Alan Cheuse Center for International Writers at George Mason University, the festival features leading Arab and diaspora writers, poets, publishers, and experts on the literature of the Middle East, with panel discussions exploring new writing from and about the Arab world, the challenges of publishing and translating works from the Middle East and how to grow the Arab world’s literary infrastructure.

Prominent Emirati poet, artist and filmmaker, Nujoom Al-Ghanem will be among the featured speakers and panellists at the festival which will open with a keynote from the 2022 winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Lebanese-American novelist Rabih Alameddine. The list of established speakers also includes Rasha Abbas, Isobelle Abulhol, Kareem James Abu Zeid, Zaina Arafat, Lana Barkawi, Zeina Hashem Beck, Matthew Davis, Lynn Gaspard, Nathalie Handal, Lisette Jaquette, Yasmina Jraisati, Ursula Lindsey, Dunya Mikhail, Ahmed Naji, Karen Phillips, and Marcia Lynx Qualey. The festival will conclude with a hybrid, in-person poetry reading at the Middle East Institute featuring Palestinian-American Zeina Azzam, recently named Poet Laureate of the City of Alexandria, Virginia in the US.

The festival is the first in a series of cultural programs organized by MEI in Washington, D.C. in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation as part of the Abu Dhabi Festival.

“MEI is delighted to be launching our partnership with the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation by highlighting the voices of Arab novelists, poets and the networks that support them,” said Kate Seelye Executive Vice President at the Middle East Institute. “Literature offers audiences a chance to see the world through the eyes of others, and the D.C. Arab Literature Festival is a window into the complex issues that writers in the Middle East are grappling with today”.

HE Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of ADMAF, Founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival, said “We are pleased to partner with the Middle East Institute to deliver a unique literature festival that presents the work and experiences of Arab writers both at home and abroad. The two-day online event gives readers all over the world an opportunity to gain insight into the cultural significance of Arab literature from the established and emerging authors of the region, while highlighting the important role cultural diplomacy plays in connecting people through enlightening experiences and cross-cultural dialogue.”

The festival takes place on Tuesday, 17 May 2022 and Wednesday, 18 May 2022 via Zoom with a closing, invite-only event to be held in-person at the Middle East Institute at 1763 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036, which will also be streamed live for virtual audiences. For more information about the festival’s complete program and to register visit:

You can also join the conversation with @meiartsculture on Twitter and @middleeastinst on Instagram using the hashtag #DCArabLitFest and with @abudhabifestival on Instagram.