As part of Hay Festival Abu Dhabi’s commitment to bringing literature to life for students of all ages we were excited to offer a Programme for Schools.

School children

Offering a fantastic event line-up, our Programme for Schools inspired and entertained thousands of local students aged 7–16 years at Manarat al Saadiyat on the mornings of Tuesday 25, Wednesday 26 and Thursday 27 February 2020.

We welcomed over 70 public and private schools from across Abu Dhabi to free events that aimed to enhance enjoyment of reading for pleasure and offer students new opportunities and ideas. These specially curated events ran for 45 minutes between 9am and 12.15pm, and each morning offered students the same opportunities to meet authors and to browse and buy books to have signed in the Hay Festival Abu Dhabi Bookshop.

Our Programme for Schools included a stellar selection of poets, novelists and entertainers blending live performances, workshops and storytelling in Arabic and English.

Hay Festival Abu Dhabi Programme for Schools was made possible thanks to our local education partner Early Starters UAE and the support of ADEK, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Tolerance and the British Council.

“Our pupils had such an amazing experience at Hay. Most of them are reluctant readers and it was so exciting to see how engaged they were listening to authors, asking questions and meeting them in the bookshop. We are so grateful for the opportunity to take them free to such an event. The trip will remain etched in the memories of our pupils forever.” – Teacher, Hay Festival Wales 2018


Is the Programme for Schools free?

Yes, we invite all Abu Dhabi schools to attend Hay Festival Abu Dhabi 2020 Programme for Schools events at Manarat al Saadiyat free of charge as part of our commitment to education and the community.

Do schools need to get ADEK and Ministry of Education approval to attend?

No, ADEK and MOE have issued pre-approvals for all attending schools.

How can schools get involved?

We already have over 70 public and private schools from across Abu Dhabi signed up for our Programme for Schools mornings. Please contact us at to register. Priority will be given to public and low-fee paying schools. 

Is there a travel bursary?

Please get in touch with us at if your school needs support to travel to and from Manarat al Saadiyat.

How long will the events last?

Each Programme for Schools event will run for 45 minutes between 09.00 and 12.15.

Can pupils buy books at the Festival?

Yes, the Festival bookshop will have books by all the authors on sale. Pupils can have their books signed on the day and are also welcome to bring their own books to be signed.

Will students be safe?

Yes, our Festival site is designed for safety and comfort. Each school will be greeted upon arrival and guided to their venue. Festival staff and bilingual Takatof volunteers will be on hand throughout the Programme for Schools mornings to help.

Are the events accessible?

Yes, our venues are wheelchair-accessible and we can make arrangements for our neurodivergent visitors – for more information please contact us at

Can we bring snacks?

Yes, there is plenty of shady space in the garden for classes to relax and enjoy themselves during breaks.

Is there anywhere we can buy tea and coffee on the Festival site?

The Manarat Al Saadiyat's restaurant, LARTE, will be open throughout the three mornings of the Programme for Schools, serving tea, coffee, drinks and food.

Where should we park?

There is parking at Manarat Al Saadiyat. Once your school is confirmed, we will be in touch to confirm your parking arrangements.  

Are there any teaching materials designed to support learning before the Festival?

Yes, please contact our local education partner, Early Starters at for more information.

Can we join the rest of the Festival?

Yes! Hay Festival Abu Dhabi will bring writers and readers together at the city’s cultural centre, Manarat al Saadiyat, for four days of conversation and debate, story-telling and workshops, music, film and performance between 25 and 28 February 2020. Tickets to events are free to anyone under the age of 25 years and we will be offering an exciting programme for children and families to enhance the enjoyment of reading for pleasure and new ideas. Stay tuned to @hayfestivalarabic and #HayAbuDhabi20 for more information.