Renowned Emirati poet Mohammed Bin Hadher is honoured with the Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2016. It marked the first posthumous award. Joanna Andrews reports on the moving tribute.
Mohammed Khalifa Bin Hadher was not only a well-known poet, he was also a diplomat and businessman. He joined the diplomatic services after completing his education, and served in Lebanon and Pakistan before becoming a member of the Federal National Council, the UAE’s legislature.
Bin Hadher left an indelible impression on the UAE. He helped establish the UAE Cultural and Scientific Association, and he founded the Rashid Prize for Higher Education, which aims to improve the educational prospects for promising students by providing them with scholarships to pursue degrees and doctorates.
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group, read a verse of one of Bin Hadher’s traditional poems and shared an emotional tribute at this year’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to honour his old friend, “It gives me great pleasure to honour Mohammed Bin Hadher with this Lifetime Achievement Award. Mohammed’s commitment and dedication to literature during his lifetime have greatly benefitted both literature and culture in the UAE. His contributions to Emirati poetry and the country that he so loved continues to live on through his family and his work.”
Speaking at the event, Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature said, “We were lucky to have hosted Mohammed Bin Hadher at the 2010 Festival. His sessions were insightful and full of history. We felt his loss deeply but writers are immortal and he is alive to us through his poetry. This year we wanted to celebrate his legacy and this award is a most fitting way to do so.”
The Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2014 to recognize individual contributions to UAE literature. 2015’s awardee for Abdul Ghaffar Hussain, noted Emirati businessman, philanthropist and one of the first published writers of Dubai. The inaugural award was given to Dr. Rafia Ghubash, Professor of Psychology, Founder of the Women’s Museum and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation.