The CEO of Emirates Literature Foundation and director of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is on a mission to connect the Middle East with the rest of the world.

What drives your purpose?
Stories are how we connect as human beings, which is why we need to make sure that the narratives and voices of this region are heard across the world and included in global conversations. Each year, the Foundation curates the annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, and over the last 16 years we’ve built relationships with the many international authors, publishers, and agents who attend. This helps us support the UAE’s talented community of writers, and creates connections that would otherwise be difficult for them to access. By connecting the right people, the world can discover Dubai’s homegrown talent.

This year, the LitFest announced a joint partnership with the Investment Corporation of Dubai, Dubai Business Associates, and flydubai to sponsor trips bringing students from across the region to the UAE for youth programmes. What is the aim of this collaboration?
Our festival is unique because it’s the only one that has a balance of Arab experts and thought leaders being featured in conversation alongside international ones, especially when it comes to topics that impact all our lives like AI, science, and the future of the Arabic language. So we wanted to bring students from across the Arab region to the LitFest because it’s a unique opportunity and it’s important to involve youth in discussions that will affect them. Our partners understood our mission and we’re grateful because it was hugely successful and we hope to build on it next year.

How do you think your prior work in marketing and events for Dubai Tourism and Jumeirah Group has enhanced your current role?
Festivals and events have been at the core of all my jobs, whether they were in food, comedy, music, or even theatre. And while skills like copywriting can come in handy, my marketing experience has helped me understand what different demographics want, how to speak to them, and what grabs different audiences’ attention. So I’ve been able to draw on all these experiences to shape the Festival in a way that appeals to new generations of the different communities in the UAE, while also raising awareness of all the work the Foundation does.

What three things do you always pack?
Comfortable shoes, because I love going on long walks whenever I travel. My Kindle, so I can bring everything I’m reading at the time with me. And finally, a baby carrier. It’s really helpful to get your hands free at the airport!

What are your top three packing tips?
Buy compartments, Apple AirTag your bag, and roll your clothes for more space!

What is your earliest childhood holiday memory?
Renting a big family van and going on road trips across the United States.

What’s been your most memorable trip so far?
Definitely Positano in Italy. I loved driving along the Amalfi Coast, and then just sitting at the shore at night, and looking back at all the colourful houses on the mountain under a sky full of stars. The food was also incredible. The lasagna at Chez Black was the best one I’ve ever had!

What is your go-to in-flight entertainment?
I love a good podcast, so flights give me a chance to discover new ones.

How do you spend your air miles?
Upgrading my seat when travelling to and back from the US. That’s my most frequent long flight so I always keep my miles for that.

What’s one trip you’d rather forget?
Probably the first trip I took without my daughter. She was 11 months then, but the three days apart from her felt like a month, so it was a really difficult trip. I also got food poisoning while on it, so I’d love to forget that experience.

What’s your ultimate bucket list destination?
I’d love to see the Northern Lights. I’m just super fascinated by anywhere you can see stars or celestial phenomena like that.