Ms. Zaghir is a Lebanese writer and publisher of children’s books that have earned her numerous awards. Her latest book Haltabees Haltabees won the Berlin International Literature Festival Book Award (2015), while other titles have been translated into 20 languages. In 2007, Ms. Zaghir founded Al Khayyat Al Saghir Publishing House, which devotes special attention to picture books that are engaging, quality literature and aim to develop the Arab child’s artistic and social awareness. She is also the co-founder and curator of the International biannual children’s literature conference known as What a Story!
Mohammad Abdul Halim
This international leadership development specialist was named one of the 100 best global coaching leaders award in 2016 and won the executive coach of the year award that same year. Halim is a leadership development expert, an international executive coach, entrepreneur, writer, columnist & TV commentator and a member of the International Coach Federation.
An international coach and member of the International Coach Federation, Karoura is also an Emotional Social Competency Inventory (ESCI) accredited assessor. The winner of the 2016 best executive coach of the year award is also a leadership development expert, inspirational speaker, writer, columnist and TV commentator and leadership assessor.
This Lebanese storyteller and librarian at the Public Library of Mtein graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus. Naseem believes that tales are not mere words and clowning intended to entertain children and adults, rather they denote history, culture and peoples’ way of life recounted by generations. Her activities include reactivating children’s theatre at the Public Library of Mtein. She is the author of two stories entitled Marzouk and Ma’touk (2012), and The Woolen Hat (2013) published by Asala Publishing House in Beirut. She has participated in numerous festivals.
Ms Khadijah Kudsi is an acclaimed children’s author, filmmaker, entrepreneur, and community leader. Best known among her works is the bilingual Noura’s World series, which has delighted thousands of children throughout the UAE and around the region. Trained in information systems management, Khadijah is also an established organisational leader, working actively to promote the learning and welfare of children through a variety of school and after-school initiatives, including the Boy and Girl Scout programmes of the UAE. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Khadijah is a long-time resident of Abu Dhabi, where she lives with her husband and four children. She brings deep understanding of Arab tradition and culture and the creative energy and imagination that inspires children of all ages.
The co-founder of Collective Kahraba, Deniaud is a graduate of the National University in the Arts of Puppetry in Charleville-Mézières, France. Since 2002, he has been acting, directing and set designing in many performances, especially those with puppets. He collaborates with companies in France, Canada, Vietnam, Japan and Lebanon. He co-founded Collective Kahraba in Beirut in 2007 and is involved in all its performances and international tours. Since 2011, he has been the co-director of Nehna wel Amar wel Jiran, a multidisciplinary festival organised by Collective Kahraba in Beirut. He will be co-directing the Hammana Artist House, an artist residency to be opened in summer 2017.
The co-founder of Collective Kahraba was born and grew up in Lebanon. After his theatre studies in Paris, Aurelien worked as an actor with different directors and choreographers in France, Europe and Lebanon. He moved back to Beirut in 2007 and founded Collective Kahraba, an artist collective with whom he creates several performances that tour locally and internationally. In 2011, he co-directed the Nehna wel Amar wel Jiran, an outdoor festival in Beirut that features 40 artists and attracts over 4,000 people. He will be co-directing the Hammana Artist House, an artist residency to be opened in summer 2017.
Omar is a Muslim-American author/entrepreneur who was born in Saudi Arabia and has family roots in Pakistan. He grew up in New York and now lives in the Washington D.C. area with his wife, three young kids, and lots of noise.
Omar received the 2014 and 2015 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards silver medal for his debut book, Ilyas & Duck Search for Allah, and his second book Ilyas & Duck and the Fantastic Festival of Eid-al-Fitr. He is the first Muslim children’s book author to receive such a nationally recognised award.
Anaahita published her first book, The Mystery of the Lost Plant, when she was only eight years old. She intends to bring diversity to children’s books by bringing in children-authored books. Her message to all the children is not only to start reading and writing but also to let them know that they don’t need to wait to grow up to start working towards their dreams. They must actually start today, so they gain experience and expertise by the time they grow up. Her larger aim is to increase the interest and love for, and to provide access to, good books to every child in this world. With this intent, she has conducted reading sessions in schools, book fairs, literary festivals, and has donated her book in public libraries in the UAE.