When I arrived in Dubai in 2001, there was one main bookstore in town, Magrudy’s, which we frequented. I have many happy memories of spending hours there with my children, browsing and buying books. The store expanded to supplying school books and uniforms, and each year we would return to stock up before the start of the school year. The store is one of the few establishments in Dubai, that has been a constant in our lives through the years and is still the bookstore of choice for me.
The owner of Magrudy’s, Isobel Abulhoul, was the driving force behind the establishment of a Dubai Literature Festival in 2009, sponsored by Emirates Airlines, the arrival of which was eagerly welcomed. I have attended the festival every year since it started, and have had the pleasure of listening to many acclaimed authors, chefs, reporters and other famous individuals. Last year's keynote speech delivered by Indra Nooyi was memorable, as was listening to the author of the book "The House of Gucci”, Sara Gay Forden, about her journey of 'book to screen'.
When I started writing what is now ‘Meher and Me’, a friend very kindly put me in touch with Isobel, and I shared an early draft of a couple of chapters to seek her feedback; I did not know if I had a voice, or could write or if there was a story that might be of interest to anyone not directly connected. Her encouragement and advice spurred me on. At her suggestion, I attended some of the writing workshops arranged by the Dubai International Writers’ Centre and registered for the "Quick Pitch” sessions at the upcoming edition of the Literature Festival, where participants were given fifteen minutes to pitch their book to the visiting international publishers. Through attending these workshops and pitch sessions, I received valuable feedback and guidance, all of which helped shape the story you read today.
It would be fair to say the Emirates Festival of Literature has a special place in my heart, and a festival that I dreamt of being able to join as an author to present my book, Meher and Me, once it was published. So imagine my delight to be invited to join the 2024 edition of the festival, at the LitFest Launch Pad, where each year debut authors from the UAE are provided the opportunity to introduce their work to readers, to help celebrate home-grown talent. I am honored, humbled and extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to be on the same stage as celebrated authors, poets, script-writers, and other literary luminaries, sharing Meher and Me, with a wide audience. Slightly scary and exciting at the same time! I do hope you will join me. You can buy tickets for the session here.
Thank you for all your support on this amazing journey which has made my dream come true!