Philip Frayne, US Consul General to the UAE, roots for Team US at Emirates Lit Fest

Philip Frayne, US Consul General to the UAE, roots for Team US at Emirates Lit Fest

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American author Allison K. Williams with US Consul General Philip Frayne at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Festival on Thursday.
Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News
Dubai: A connoisseur of books, music and all things cultural, Philip Frayne, the United States Consul General to the UAE, was a prominent figure at the opening ceremony of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2021 on Thursday. Forging cross-cultural ties with the UAE, he expressed solidarity and support for the three US writers who are part of the festival this year: Victoria Montgomery Brown, Allison Williams and Max Stanton.
Talking to Gulf News about the unique bilateral cultural ties that a festival like this can help build, Frayne expressed happiness that despite the restrictions that the pandemic imposed, three US authors who were already in the UAE were representing US this year. “The US Consulate has supported the festival since 2018. In the past three years, we supported ten US authors at this festival. This year because of the pandemic, travel was difficult, so we are supporting the three US authors who were already in the UAE,” Frayne explained.

In the past three years, the US Consulate had been directly involved in hosting the US authors at the festival, sponsoring their travel and stay in the UAE. “We do what we can to promote cultural dialogue between authors from around the world,” Frayne said.

Bonding with book lovers

Frayne added that he loved the intellectual buzz the event created. “This festival has come to be a symbol of cross-cultural dialogue and communication between not just the US and UAE, but all the other 60-70 countries that have authors representing them. We love supporting this festival.”

Incidentally, the US Consulate not just supporting Emirates lit fest, but has been proactive at the Sharjah Book Fair as well. Frayne said: “We have also encouraged many Emirati filmmakers to collaborate with the University of Southern California to learn the art of film production and script writing. We have been instrumental in sending many young and talented Emirati nationals to the US each year for a variety of cultural and educational programmes. During the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai, the US pavilion intends to feature both US and UAE artistes.”

Inspiring people to be creative

Talking about the uniqueness of the themes of the three participating US authors, Frayne said he was happy that two of them were focusing on guiding other writers and entrepreneurs on breaking new ground. “One of our authors here, Allison Williams, is trying to advise and share her experience on how to get published in literary magazines and newspapers. She has been published in literary journals and is happy to share her experience.”

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US Consul General Philip Frayne.
Image Credit: Supplied

Talking about Victoria Montgomery, the author of Digital Goddess: The Unfiltered Lessons of a Female Entrepreneur, Frayne said: “She is one of our authors who is very big on promoting women and women entrepreneurship. That is a big theme with us, as we love to promote women in business and women start-ups.”

Cultural power a force to reckon with

Frayne said recognising talent and captalising on talent in fields other than corporate and business would help consolidate a creative human resource. “Normally, when we talk about human resources we think of business. But human talent exists across all fields, especially in literature and writing in general. Therefore, we want to promote cross-cultural dialogue — not only in business, but also in other fields such as sports, culture and literature.”

‘Dubai is an incredible place’

Frayne, who has been in Dubai for the last two-and-a-half years, thinks the emirate is an incredible place. It is so vibrant and in addition to Emirati culture, I have learnt a lot about so many other cultures such as Indian, Pakistani, Uzbekistani, South African. This place has more than 200 nationalities and is at the forefront of cultural renaissance and tolerance. One can imbibe a rich tapestry of cultural influences from around the world. Emirates Airline Festival of Literature showcases this cross-cultural, vibrant aspect of life here very well.”

US Authors at the Emirates Festival of Literature, 2021

Allison K. Williams: She is the author of Get Published in Literary Magazines and Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro From Blank Page to Book. She has edited and coached writers to deals with Penguin Random House, Knopf, Mantle, Spencer Hill, St. Martin’s and independent presses. She has guided essayists to publication in the New Yorker, Time, Guardian, New York Times, McSweeney’s and TED Talks. Allison runs the Rebirth Your Book writing retreats virtually and around the world. As Social Media Editor for Brevity, she inspires thousands of writers with blogs on craft and the writing life. A former circus performer, Allison has written for NPR, CBC, New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Creative Nonfiction, McSweeney’s, Kenyon Review Online and Travelers’ Tales.

Victoria R. Montgomery Brown: She is the CEO and co-founder of ‘Big Think’, the knowledge company that makes people and companies smarter and faster through short-form video with the world’s best thinkers and doers. Since founding Big Think in 2007, Victoria has built the company from a fledgling thought-leadership media platform to the leading knowledge company for ideas and soft skills. As CEO, Victoria oversees and directs strategy, fundraising, and investor relations. Victoria has a BA from McGill University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Her book Digital Goddess: The Unfiltered Lessons of a Female Entrepreneur, was published in 2020.

Max Stanton: Born in Botswana, Max Stanton — also known as Max of Arabia — spent his formative years travelling the world with his parents. By the age of seven, he had lived on four continents, and is working on adding more countries to the list of 60+ that he has visited so far. It was through these travels that he was first introduced to, and later fell in love with, the Middle East. Now living in Dubai, Max remains passionate about travel, but has definitely started growing roots. The strong connection that he has with the Gulf is audible in his near fluent grasp of Emirati Arabic, and his fascination with Khaliji culture. Max is a content creator who uses his channels to drive audience interest to the beauty of the region, the Arabic language, promote his passion for charity work and make people laugh and smile.


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