#DecolonizeReading2023 Academic Nook Emirates Airline Literature Festival Features Reading Life Reading Themes

[Saturday Reads | Academic Nook Guest Post] #EmiratesLitFest Impressions – Part 2

A warm welcome to today's guest contributor: Eqlima Dinar, a PhD Candidate from UAE University.


Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.

Guest Contributor: Eqlima Dinar, UAE University

Anthony Geffen: The Future of Storytelling

The CEO of Atlantic Productions and renowned documentary filmmaker, Anthony Geffen, a pioneer in immersive storytelling, presented a whole new perspective of how storytelling would be in the future. I come from a time before the smart generation he mentioned in his presentation. I belong to the days when Atari, the first home video game console, reached the UAE, which meant that my father didn’t have to take us to the arcade anymore (hope you didn’t guess my age). Augmented Reality produced the picture you see of the Titanic using an iPhone and it is sitting on Anthony Geffen’s office desk – mind blowing, right?

We love hearing stories, and Geffen is transforming storytelling into various forms, involving technology such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. He further ventured into other fields such as education, space, deep ocean, even places that people go to everyday like museums, using his inventions to create immersive storytelling experiences.

Imagine sitting in your living room while wearing a headgear; a shark floats around right there in front of you (I can hear the ominous soundtrack from Jaws). With this technology, it seems everything is possible; you can go on an adventure on the Amazon Rainforest or venture into the past while visiting Qasr Al Hosn in which Geffen’s technology allows you to have a sneak peek on the lives of the people who live/d there – yes, it is all happening in your brain but who says it’s not real.

As an educator, it seems this new technology is promising. Stories will come to life on a desk and children can interact with them. Geffen worked on an amazing project about bees and students could buzz around in hives and learn about how a bee lives. The results of such a project were astonishing; it improved children’s memory; they learned faster, and it sparked their reading interest – what more could a teacher wish for? Jackpot! It is also noteworthy that he intends to make this advanced technology available on devices that all children have access to; he mentioned students could use an iPhone 7 to access it. Although I’m crestfallen that I’m not the tech-savvy person in my household anymore (my 13 old nephew seems to know a lot more than me!) but I’m ecstatic about how his vision of the future of storytelling would impact children’s education.

Behind Arab Lit Quarterly: Art of Arabic Literary Translation

Marcia Lynx Qualey, currently based in Morocco, is a freelance journalist, translator, and the founder of ArabLit.org. She created the website so that literary translators who want to be part of a community could join it. I’m a huge fan of young adult (YA) literature (a guilty pleasure) but it was astonishing to hear from her that translators stay away from translating YA, as they view it as not prestigious (or high-brow) enough to be translated. Luckily, not for Marcia. If you are interested, and have a budget (I went overboard with my book-buying budget for February) I would highly recommend Sonia Nimr’s Thunderbird.

I also relate to Marcia’s struggles when translating from Arabic to English; transliteration is not always workable and “needs to have a good reason for it” because too often, it could convey a totally different meaning. She provided some tips on how to start a career in translation like starting small with story excerpts and to get other people to read your work to see if the translation is appropriate. Happy translating!

Mohsin Hamid: The Last White Man

So, I went on a shopping spree and bought three of Mohsin Hamid’s books (would have bought more if they were available in Kinokuniya). He has an interesting view about reading a book where readers get to “play make believe with somebody again”. This is so true! I was in a dark, small cupboard full of spiders, and I crossed the Caradhras, frozen to my core. Stories provide us with an alternative that we can escape to and be comfortable in. In his book The Last White Man, he tackles racism which he claims is “something that we imagine into existence. Then it is possible to imagine it out of existence.” I am eager to read his books which are currently stacked on my bedside table – newsflash: they are two towers of TBR books!

Oliver Jeffers: Meanwhile Back On Earth and There’s A Ghost In This House

Donning a cowboy hat, Jeffers walks onto the stage with thunderous applause from his young fans. Both of his sessions Meanwhile Back on Earth and There’s a Ghost in this House were funny, engaging, interactive and showed his amazing drawing skills (see illustrations below which make it appear like illustrating is a piece of cake).

He is inspired by everyday life and has a lot of questions he wants to answer. His work conveys messages that could have a profound effect on both children and adults. For instance, his book Meanwhile Back on Earth illustrates that mankind is always engaged in conflicts about something or the other, mainly space. The complicated calculations he did with the help of an astrophysicist to estimate time travel in space and match that to the time back on Earth is amazing. It was a reflective and an informative read aloud which shook me to my core. Few writers could combine Sci-Fi with reality as Jeffers does.

About the contributor: 

Eqlima Dinar is a science teacher and an early childhood education consultant, and she is currently a PhD Candidate in Education Leadership at UAEU. Her research interests include learning through play and students’ wellbeing. She enjoys reading books, picture books, and manga. Crocheting amigurumi and origami are her other interests.


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