Isobel Abulhoul OBE
Isobel Abulhoul was born and educated in Cambridge, United Kingdom, before moving to Dubai in 1968 (her home ever since). There she co-founded the bookshop chain, Magrudy’s, in 1975 and has since been actively engaged in promoting reading and writing schemes for children and teachers alike for the region. In 2008, she founded and became Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. As the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, the festival brings people of all ages together with authors from across the world to promote education, debate and, above all else, reading. The Festival won the Best Festival in the Middle East Award in 2013 and 2014. Isobel has received official recognition for her tireless campaigning to improve literacy and fostering a love of books, particularly for children. Her accolades include: the Cultural Personality of the Year by Dr. HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah (2010); an OBE by HM Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain (2012); Cultural Icon of UAE by The 3rd Petrochem GR8! Women Awards- Middle East (2013) and the Al Owais Cultural Award (2014). For the last two years, Middle East Business has selected Isobel as one of the most influential Brits and the most inspirational woman living in the UAE. In 2014, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature was also named the Best Festival in the Middle East for the second year running.