It was a celebration of culture, ideas, dialogue and exchange as the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) got under way at Qatar National Library yesterday in the presence of HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, vice-chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation.
Present at the opening event were Dr Sohair Wastawy, executive director of the library; Dr Abdulaziz al-Horr, director of the Diplomatic Institute, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Namita Gokhale, author and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival; Sanjoy K Roy, managing director of Teamwork Arts, which produces JLF; Indian ambassador P Kumaran and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jeffrey Gettleman, among others.
The opening ceremony started with a musical recital by violinist and composer Sharat Chandra Srivastava and Ravinder Kumar Soni. This was followed by the inaugural address, ‘Each Other’s Stories’.
The exchange between Dr al-Horr, Gokhale and Roy highlighted the significance of JLF Doha for Qatar’s literary scene and the Qatar-India 2019 Year of Culture, the library stressed in a statement.
Dr Wastawy said JFL is a celebration of writing, dialogue and exchange. “Qatar National Library is glad to offer the global literary community space and freedom to unleash their ideas and creativity. The atmosphere at JFL’s opening night is incredible. And we expect more of the same over the next two days as Qatar’s creative community joins its voices and ideas with those of the world’s greatest writers,” she said.
Dr al-Horr said the Year of Culture celebrations this year have “set up the bridge of love and relations” between Qatar and India. “There are several similarities between the two countries and these are to be highlighted. This is a beginning, not an end,” he said, thanking all concerned for their contributions in making JLF a reality in Qatar.
Ambassador Kumaran said the festival is one of the highlights of the programmes held as part of Qatar-India 2019 Year of Culture.
On his part, Gettleman presented the keynote session, ‘In Denial: A Betrayal of the Earth’, in which he spoke of his experiences as a correspondent in Africa and South Asia and the pressing issues of famine, conflict and the perils to the environment.
“I believe Qatar has really shown a commitment to the arts through Qatar National Library, so it is wonderful to see the library embrace one of the best literature festivals in the world. I hope this continues to grow over the coming years, and people take full advantage of all the talent and interesting speakers here,” he noted.
Roy added, “We are excited to bring a version of the world’s biggest literary event to Doha, which explores diversity and creates a platform to celebrate world literature and commonality between our cultures.”
Prominent writers and artists gather for a “spectacular weekend of creative discourse, music and cultural events” at JLF in Qatar. The festival is open today and tomorrow for the public to enjoy discussions, stimulating lectures, storytelling and theatre workshops and live music performances.
The weekend’s events also give visitors an opportunity to be part of a narrative of global literature and South Asian culture with an expansive outdoor area hosting Indian food stalls and other snack shops. Attendees will get to purchase gifts and books at the library’s first pop-up store.
The festival is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ooredoo.
Today, the event will host sessions on a range of subjects, including William Dalrymple’s history of the East India Company to an evening with legendary Indian actress Sharmila Tagore. A theatre workshop on ‘Shakespeare in Movement”, presented by actor and playwright Kim Pereira, will immerse participants in a performance of Shakespeare’s verse and prose.
The third and final day of JLF Doha will open with the musical renditions of Barnali Chattopadhyay and Debjit Patitundi. Award-winning Qatari writer and poet Kaltam Jabor M al-Kuwari will take part in a multi-vocal reading of poetry in which different languages and styles converge in a joyous celebration as six poets read from their work.
In the festival’s second workshop, author Musharraf Ali Farooqi opens up a new world for children, parents and educators by sharing the art of interactive storytelling, which he developed to help children become avid readers. His Storykit programme has been successfully employed by Unesco in primary schools to improve children’s reading skills.
The JLF Doha events are open to the public and free to attend. For more information about the programme, one can visit http://jlflitfest.org/doha/schedule
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