Isobel Abulhoul was born and educated in Cambridge, first at St Mary’s Convent and then at Impington Village College, United Kingdom, before moving to Dubai in 1968 (her home ever since).
In Dubai, 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). Isobel was also appointed a Trustee for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014, the premier prize for novelists in Arabic.
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.
To further add to Isobel’s achievements, she co-hosts a radio show ‘Talking of Books’ every Saturday morning – three hours of live talk, interviews and discussions focused on books.
A Piece of Advice
“Follow your passion, and be prepared to put your whole being into any endeavour you commit to. Don't waste time on past failures, but focus on today and now”.