'Writers in Residence' programme reveals Dubai inmates' personal reflections on family, second chances, hopes and freedom.
12 January 2021| Last updated on 14 January 2021
The Emirates Literature Foundation brings 'Writers in Residence' project back to Dubai Punitive and Correctional Institutions.
Last year saw male and female prisoners in Dubai reveal their hopes and personal reflections, collected in a published book, 'Tomorrow I Will Fly'. The moving anthology comes from the Emirates Literature Foundation’s ‘Writers in Residence’ programme, which returned to Dubai’s prisons for its second edition in 2020.
Its second run is part of an initiative called ‘From The Inside Out’. The project involves two authors who will take up a week-long writers’ residency in Dubai Punitive and Correctional Institutions and hold concentrated creative writing workshops with a group of inmates.
The project, supported by the General Department of Correctional and Punitive Institutions at Dubai Police, is the first initiative of its kind in the Arab World.
Isobel Abulhoul OBE, CEO and trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation said that last year’s project had been a fulfilling and emotional experience.
"All of us who were involved in this project were profoundly affected by it, including the inmates, the prison staff, and Clare Mackintosh and Annabel Kantaria, the wonderful authors who were the resident writers and invested so much of their time in getting the stories into print," she commented.
Abulhoul added: "Many of the inmates found that the process of writing down their thoughts and experiences was transformative, bringing forth new insights and enabling them to process their experiences in a very meaningful way. Writing can have such a positive impact on an inmate’s journey of rehabilitation, helping them to pave the way to their new lives on the outside.”
Abulhoul continued: "We are deeply grateful to Mr Tawhid Abdulla, who generously provided the funding to publish the book 'Tomorrow, I will Fly'. He will also fund the next book of essays in 2021 and the monthly book clubs for inmates, which we know makes a real positive impact on the lives of those who need it the most.”
Brigadier Ali Mohamed Abdulla Al Shamali, Director of the General Department of Punitive and Correctional Institutions at Dubai Police, said that the Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, Lt. General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri consistently emphasizes the role of police in preserving human rights for all society members and ensuring that Dubai inmates are involved in all relevant initiatives that positively reflect the UAE's efforts in this field.
Brig. Al Shamali also confirmed the Department’s keenness on providing the inmates with the means necessary to enhance and improve their creative skills in the cultural sphere.
To achieve this, the Department enrols the inmates in educational and training programmes to sharpen their writing skills and give them opportunities to land proper jobs after they have served their sentences. In addition, the Department also facilities the inmates’ smooth return to regular society where they can financially support themselves and their families.
"The cooperation between Dubai Police and the Emiratis Airline Festival of Literature is a great initiative dedicated to the inmates’ cultural welfare. Last year, the initiative proudly organized visits from Dubai-based and international authors to inmates to discuss books and the art of writing," Brig. Al Shamali added.
The ‘From the Inside Out’ project stems from a long-term initiative by the Emirates Literature Foundation, with the assistance of Dubai Police and Dubai Central Jail, which takes Dubai-based and international authors to the prison every month to engage with inmates and discuss books and the process of writing.
After visiting the prison in 2019 as part of this programme, the best-selling writers Clare Mackintosh (author of 'I See You, Let Me Lie'), and Annabel Kantaria (author of 'Coming Home' and 'The One That Got Away'), saw an opportunity to develop the initiative and help the prisoners find their voices and tell their stories.
These stories were collated in the book, 'Tomorrow, I Will Fly', which was launched at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Copies of the book were made available to other prisons in the UAE, the Arab World and further afield, including prisons in the UK.
To get your copy of the book, click here.