From Nabati poetry to spoken word to hip-hop, a multiple-artist celebration of heritage in poetry, prose and song, drawing from the diverse communities of the UAE. An exciting line-up of performers will honor National Day through words and music, selected through a collaborative curatorial process.


Afra Atiq is the “second in command” of Untitled Chapters, the only literary hub for female Emirati writers. Through Untitled Chapters she is able to share her love of the stage through workshops and poetry mentorships, though she remains one of the very few female Emirati spoken word poets. She infuses her poetry with comedy while still talking about serious issues, using it as vehicle to drive home certain topics that may be too awkward for regular conversations. Atiq is also a distinguished government employee with an MA in international relations and writes regularly for Gulf News.

Christine-Jean Blain is an educator, a writer, a performer, and above all, a storyteller. Her parents are Haitian immigrants and Haitian Kreyol is a tongue built on proverbs and analogies. She teaches and resides in Dubai and is the author of Lighting the Back Home, a self published collection of prose and poetry. Her work can be found in African Voices literary Magazine, and most recently, A Limed Jewel, poetry anthology written in aid to Haiti compiled and edited by The Black Londoners Appeal and Afros: A Celebration of Natural Hair, created and edited by Michael July. She is a former Hedgebrook Fellow, a Cave Canem workshop participant and a founding member of Dusks Daughters Arts Collective.

Deepak Unnikrishnan is the winner of the 2014 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award, Unnikrishnan is a writer from Abu Dhabi and lecturer at NYU Abu Dhabi. His first set of short stories, Coffee Stains in a Camel’s Teacup, was published by Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Dima Khatib is a journalist, poet and translator. She speaks 8 languages and writes in 4 of them. Most of her poetry is in Arabic. Dima has been classified among the most influential Arab women on social media since 2011. She was recently appointed as the Managing Director of AJ+, an online digital news channel based in Doha and San Francisco. Her journalistic career led her to work in over 30 countries around the world, including China and Latin America. She has spoken in dozens of conferences around the globe. She lectured at the American University in Dubai for two years while hosting regular poetry recitals across the region and beyond. She has one poetry collection in Arabic, entitled: Love Refugee.

Farah Chamma is a Dubai-born Palestinian spoken word performer who performs in multiple languages. She will be accompanied by Maruan Betawi, an Abu Dhabi-based oudist/guitarist – part of the German based band Maqamundo that intertwines Flamenco sounds with Arabic rhythms – and Molham is an electronic/hip-hop musician who likes to experiment with unusual sounds.

Hassan AlNajjar, after completing his university studies, he made several attempts to publish his first collections of poems. He finally succeeded in his attempts and published his first collection in 2007. The collection was influenced by his upbringing in the coastal environment of Khor Fakkan. He participated in the 2009 season of the televised poetry contest Prince of Poets as well as many other poetic events and gathering in several Arab countries. In 2011, he published his second collection which focused on the themes of the self and the environments. He is currently working on publishing his third collection, though it’s still in its preliminary stages. He is also working on obtaining a Masters Degree in Arabic Literature from Sharjah University.

Joey Bui is a Vietnamese Australian writer. She is principally interested in immigration policy, literature and coffee. Her short stories are published in a number of small literary magazines, and she was twice the recipient of the Young Australian Writers’ Award. Joey has competed in poetry slams at the Nuyorican Poets Café in New York City and Rooftop Rhythms in Abu Dhabi. She is a senior at NYU Abu Dhabi and editor-in-chief of student newspaper The Gazelle. She is currently working on a collection of short stories about South Viet Nam.

LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs a writer, vocalist and sound artist, Diggs is the author of TwERK (Belladonna, 2013), a collection of poems, songs and myths, and the co-founder and co-editor of Coon Bidness, yoYO, and SO4. Her performances have been featured at Brooklyn Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Temple Contemporary, the Walker Art Center, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Texas, the Poesiefestival Berlin, LiteraturHaus in Denmark and the 2015 Venice Biennale. As an independent curator and director, she has staged events at BAM Café, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the David Rubenstein Atrium and El Museo del Barrio. A native of Harlem, Diggs is the recipient of several awards, among them include the Barbara Deming Memorial Grant for Women, the Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, The Laundromat Project Create Change Public Art Program, New York Foundation of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Calligrapher Muhammad bin Yahya is from one of the younger generation of rare and distinguished professionals in the field of calligraphy in the UAE. Bin Yahya’s resourcefulness in designing logos for companies and institutions, shops and the names of persons and has a huge amount of success in major exhibitions, forums and international events dealing with many of the leading companies state of Mubadala and Irina for renewable energy and Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Department of Economic Development, and many government agencies and companies.

Nafisatou Mounkaila is a Bronx native. Her origin lies in West Africa, and she is currently a NYUAD student majoring in Arab Crossroads. Poetry is her time to interact with her identity and with the world around her. When silence becomes intolerable, she writes. Most of her work is about the Black experience in the modern world. When writing about Islam, poetry also gives her the chance to heighten her own spirituality as a Muslim.

Obaid Rashed Alyalyali

Salem Shukri Al Attas is a spoken word poet who began performance poetry in 2012. Since then he has won several poetry slam competitions and awards including Performer of The Year 2014 and the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Finale Championship hosted by Rooftop Rhythms. Attas has also co-hosted the First Annual Abu Dhabi International Poetry Festival and given numerous workshops on performance poetry and delivery. Attas is very active in the community being a guest speaker, giving talks to students on performance, as well as being a guest performer at the PATCH conference that was held at NYUAD among other events.

Shahid Jamal hails from Lucknow, India. His style of writing is very classical old Lucknowite way of writing. In the old times, Lucknow was the cradle of art and poetry. Urdu from Lucknow, which is Shahid’s language of expression, is considered to be a very fine and elegant language with a very old heritage of fine history.

Curated by Bill Bragin, Dorian Paul Rogers, Jill Magi, Mohamed AlHashimi, Raj-Krishan Mistry and Zari Jafri.