Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

Best Of The Emirates LitFest! 3 Sessions To Rewatch From 2021

By: Rawan Badr

The face of the moon was in shadow

The news is out! The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be returning again in 2022, now with a new theme. But as the Emirates Literature Foundation prepares to announce our exciting line up of upcoming authors, why not look look back at some of the most exciting sessions from 2021. From ruminations on global events and politics, to explorations of how we can better relate to one another, and even deep dives into how learning science can be exciting and fun, there was truly something for everyone! 

Why is everyone an idiot?

Did you ever look around you and think to yourself: Is everyone else an idiot? Well, this session is for you! Thomas Erikson, author of Surrounded by Idiots, along with Dr. Sharif Arafa, an author, cartoonist, and positive psychologist explore this question in depth. Erikson begins by diving into the question suggested by the title of his book, as he points out how ordinary it is for humans to assume that everyone around them is an idiot just because the other person might do something differently than you. Dr. Ashraf backs this up by talking about a few studies that prove that people often thinks they’re above average when it comes to comparing their own intelligence with that of others, and how that is statistically impossible. Erikson gives an interactive explanation on his colorful classification of human behavior that he proposes in his book – red, yellow, green, and blue and points out the characteristics of each one. Meanwhile, Dr. Ashraf brings culture, the evolution of the human race, scientific studies, and global issues into conversation to follow up with what Erikson proposes. This creates a fun, exciting, and harmonious conversation between them for the audience to enjoy and learn from.

Are Cats Liquid?

Did you know that there is a Nobel Prize, known as IG Nobel Prize, specifically for silly questions? We’ve all learned that curiosity is quite important in our lives, but how far can we take it? In this sessions, Isabel Thomas, a children’s science writer, asks all types of silly curious questions with solid and factious answers! Questions like: are cats liquid? Can we make a frog levitate? Can we swim in ice cream? She also makes clear that those questions have been around for centuries asked by people like Al Hassan Ibn Hytham and Leonardo Davinci, and because of them and many others we now have answers to weird questions. Tune in to the session to find out what silly questions won the IG Nobel Prize, and find other absurd questions with serious answers. This, not only is it the perfect way to introduce your child to the beauty of curiosity and searching for answers, it’s just as interesting for adults as well! 

Amin Maalouf – Adrift 

Amin Maalouf, author of Adrift, shares important insights about the society we live in today from a political and cultural stand point. He states his concerns for the path that humanity has taken and reflects back on his youthful days growing up. Maalouf reminisces on the strong and respectful ties that held everyone together and how it changed drastically in the past 30-60 years. He follows up his point by stating that the Middle East needs to reclaim its identity after the western colonization and explains how we can use digital power in our favor. Instead of calling this a cruel world, he says, we need to build something for the future. He brings light to culture and gives importance to it by stressing that culture gives people a sense of direction. In order to evolve and find direction we must pay close attention to culture and arts. If you’re interested in political and current affairs, this session will bring a new perspective and interesting insights into our society these days with suggestions on what move to take next.

For more news on what the Emirates Literature Foundation is up to, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. And to keep up with the rest of our book-filled discussion, you can listen to the latest episode of our Boundless Book Club podcast, featured down below!

Rawan Badr is a graduate from the University of Sharjah, having majored in English literature and translation. She is a big fan of Classics and Philosophy and enjoys analyzing different literary texts, alongside learning the history behind different literary eras.