Everything you need to know about the first Hay Festival in Abu Dhabi

The storied history of the Hay Festival
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Everything you need to know about the first Hay Festival in Abu Dhabi

The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts started life as a 10-day literature festival in the small market town of Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales in 1988, with the aim of bringing readers and writers together to share their stories.

This charming idea proved to be a winning formula, attracting revered authors, poets, and Nobel Laureates including Margaret Atwood, Germaine Greer, Harold Pinter and Edward Said, plus a raft of contemporary new names including Zadie Smith, Dolly Alderton and Akala to name but a very modest selection.

Thirty years on and the festival has journeyed across the globe to international acclaim, from the pristine beaches of Cartagena de Indias and Maldives to the bustling cities of Beirut and Mumbai, reaching more than five million people across five continents, and this year, it finally lands in the UAE. 

Hay Festival in Abu Dhabi will take place from 25-28 February 2020 at Manarat Al Saadiyat, promising us four days of entertainment and inspiration. Award-winning authors and notable names attending include: Booker International Prize 2019 Winner Jokha Alharthi and Booker Prize 2019 Winner Bernardine Evaristo; novelists Ahdaf Soueif, Fatima Bhutto, Hoda Barakat, Ahmed Saadawi, Mohammed Hasan Alwan, Youssef Rakha, Shahad al Rawi, Miguel Syjuco; three Nobel Prize-winners, Wole Soyinka, Shirin Ebadi and Ahmed Galai; historians William Dalrymple, Shashi Tharoor, Jung Chang, Baillie Gifford Prize 2019 winner Hallie Rubenhold, Ahmed al Shamsy, Peter Frankopan, Jerry Brotton and Bettany Hughes; poets Qassim Haddad, Tishani Doshi and Yang Lian; and food writer Hanan Sayed Worrell. 

The grand finale of Hay Festival Abu Dhabi will also a 90th birthday gala in celebration of Syrian poet Adonis. View the full programme - which includes talks, film screenings, and live performances - here.