According to a report in The Guardian, The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts will not be organised in Abu Dhabi this time after an employee accused United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Tolerance of sexual harassment. In an interview with The Sunday Times, the employee in question stated that the minister, who also happens to be a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, sexually assaulted her in February, 11 days prior to the commencement of the festival.
“Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al-Nahyan made a mockery of his ministerial responsibilities and tragically undermined his government’s attempt to work with Hay Festival to promote free speech and female empowerment,” Caroline Michel, chair of the Hay Festival board stated in a statement issued.
“The Hay festival board has been very clear that it would not return to Abu Dhabi whilst Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan remains in post. Our exchanges with the ministry of tolerance have been limited while awaiting the outcome of the legal avenues being explored by Caitlin … We have no plans to return,” Michel was further quoted as saying in The Guardian.
On his part, al-Nahyan has denied the allegations and through his lawyers at Schillings issued a statement. “Our client is surprised and saddened by this allegation, which arrives eight months after the alleged incident and via a national newspaper. The account is denied.”
The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts takes place annually for 10 days from May to June. It is primarily a British literary event and its offshoot in Abu Dubai was intended to promote free speech as well as female empowerment.
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