Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (The Festival) is an international literature festival held annually in the United Arab Emirates. The festival is held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, under the auspices of the Emirates Literature Foundation and is run by Ahlam Bolooki. The festival's offices are located within the Dubai International Writers' Centre.
The festival is held each March in Dubai. It features more than 250 sessions and unique events including workshops, masterclasses, panel discussions and poetry readings. The programme has events for adults and children in Arabic, English, French as well as other languages. An estimated 44,000+ visitors attend the festival each year.
- 2009: The Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature was launched with 65 international authors including Chimamanda Adichie, Simon Armitage, Jung Chang, Imtiaz Dharker, Carol Ann Duffy, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Nujoom Al-Ghanem, Philippa Gregory, Victoria Hislop, Ibrahim Kuni, Frank McCourt (his final appearance before his death), Mark Tully, among others.
- 2010: The Festival is renamed the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and welcomed over 80 authors including Leila Aboulela, Martin Amis, Tim Butcher, Polly Dunbar, Maha Gargash, Abdo Khal, Yann Martel, Alexander McCall Smith, Mariam Al Saedi, Marjane Satrapi, Qais Sedki, Vikas Swarup, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and more.
- 2011: 120 authors were invited for the third Festival with a larger Arabic focus. Attending authors included Mohammed Achaari, Kate Adie, Margaret Atwood, Aminatta Forna, Joumana Haddad, Madhur Jaffrey, Yang Lian, Michael Morpurgo, Michael Palin, Lionel Shriver, Nobel Prize for Literature winner Wole Soyinka and many others.
- 2012: The Festival had a more diversified programme than before, inviting authors, poets, celebrity chefs and publishers such as John Agard, David Almond, Chetan Bhagat, Luigi Bonomi, Tim Bowler, Bobby Chinn, Ranjit Hoskote, Daljit Nagra, David Nicholls, Alastair Reynolds, Darren Shan, Sir Terry Wogan and many more.
- 2013: The Festival celebrated its fifth anniversary with the inclusion of five special evening events including a grand opening ceremony, Desert Stanzas, a night of poetry in the desert, the Murder Mystery Dinner, where guests were aided by international authors to solve a ‘murder’, The Lighter Side, making the best of the line-up of star writers, who also have a gift for comedy authors showed off their comedic skills and a closing event. Attendees included Jeffrey Archer, Ken Hom, Anupam Kher, Nik Gowing, Anthony Horowitz, Shobhaa De, Jeffery Deaver, Lynda La Plante, Ian Rankin, Dan Rather, Tan Twan Eng. The Festival also welcomed Royal guests including Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who attended Desert Stanzas, Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi.
- 2014: With 169 attending authors, the sixth Festival was also its largest. The Festival continued with the format set the previous year, replacing The Lighter Side with Friday Rhythms, an evening of poetry and music with an innovative rock/poetry fusion performance by LiTTLe MaCHiNe. The Festival introduced new sessions Literary Idol, a cross between Dragons' Den and Pop Idol, and Big Ideas, where authors went up on stage to speak on a topic of their choice along with the Festival Prologue, a series of three-day workshops held on the weekend before the Festival. Attending authors included Saud alSanousi, Paddy Ashdown, Pam Ayres, Henry Blofeld, Eoin Colfer, Nicholas Evans, Richard and Judy, Vivian French, Sally Gardner, Joanne Harris, Christina Lamb, Andrew Motion, Jeremy Paxman, Sir Tim Rice, Ahdaf Soueif, among others.
- 2015: Over 130 authors attended the seventh Festival which featured best-selling authors from around the world, including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Charley Boorman, Julia Donaldson, Nawal El-Saadawi, Sophie Hannah, Alexander McCall Smith, David Mitchell, Michael Morpurgo, HE Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, David Walliams and Markus Zusak. The Festival also presented the first-ever UAE appearance of the life-size War Horse puppets, Joey and Topthorn, at the War Horse Concert, and a performance of 'Knight of Peace' by Jason Kouchak to critical acclaim. During the year, the Festival had conducted a survey for the favourite Arabic and English books of the UAE. The results were announced at the Festival to be Parapscyhology by Ali Al-Wardi, as the top Arabic book, and Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, as the top English book.
- 2016: More than 150 authors attended the eighth Festival, which was held over two weeks for the first time, due to the high demand from authors around the world to attend the Festival. Authors in attendance included Saud Alsanousi, Simon Armitage, Lauren Child, Ann Cleeves, Carol Ann Duffy, Lisa Faulkner, Farah Chamma, Maha Gargash, A. C. Grayling, Anthony Horowitz, Dom Joly, Robert Lindsay, Anchee Min, John Julius Norwich, Ian Rankin, John Torode, Marcia Williams, among a host of others from over 30 countries.
- 2017: Over 180 authors attended the ninth, and largest Festival, which was held over nine days including two packed weekends. Highlight authors included Jeffrey Archer, Jon Ronson, Christina Lamb, Kathy Reichs, Francesca Simon, Alan Titchmarsh, Ben Miller, Kanishk Tharoor, Abdullah Al-Jumah, Nadiya Hussain, Andrew Davies, Lucy Hawking, Bothayna Wail Al Essa, Yasmina Khadra, Frank Gardner, Jo Malone, Eric Van Lustbader, Sana Amanat, John Hemingway, Omar Saif Ghobash, Nigel Cumberland, Farah Chamma among many others. Over 30 countries were represented at the 2017 Festival. Of the 180+ authors, 40 were Emirati. The 2017 Festival had a strong focus on happiness and positivity with several sessions discussing the ways to achieve happiness. A special panel discussion was also held at the Festival featuring Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness discussing Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's latest book, Reflections on Happiness and Positivity.
- 2018: The 10th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature featured over 180 authors from nearly 50 countries. Highlight authors included David Walliams, Kevin Kwan, Cheryl Strayed, Anthony Horowitz, Jacqueline Wilson, Shashi Tharoor, Saroo Brierley, Mahur Jaffrey, Ken Hom, Muhammad Yunus, Mohammed Hasan Alwan, His Excellency Omar Saif Ghobash and Rhianna Pratchett. For the first time ever, the Festival hosted a poetry evening at the Dubai Opera. For the Love of Words, presented by the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Dubai Opera, the Ministry of Tolerance and the British Council, gathered the best of the UK and UAE’s contemporary poets under one roof. Khalid Al Budoor, Nujoom Nasser Al Ghanem, Afra Atiq, Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage, John Agard, Imitiaz Dharkerre, Hussain Lootah, Roger McGough, Grace Nichols, Lemn Sissay and Harry Baker enchanted a packed theatre of poetry performance enthusiasts. The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature have also commemorated their 10th anniversary with the publication of a limited-edition book, which launched at the opening ceremony of the Festival. For the Love of Words features eighty-four inspirational voices that have been a part of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature over the years. The anthology is a collection of articles, poems, short stories and illustrations that celebrate the love of words.
- 2019: More than 180 authors gathered at the 11th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Highlight authors included Jeff Kinney, Nathan H. Lents, Chris Gardner, Ahmad AlShugairi, Dame Darcey Bussell, Tony Blackburn, Sally Helgesen, Saud Alsanousi, Jane Hawking, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Ian Rankin and more. The theme was United By Words.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature won the Middle East Event Awards’ Best Festival Award three times, in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Festival was awarded Best Family Friendly Day Out Award at the Time Out Kids Awards 2016 and Favourite Festival at the What’s On Awards 2016. The Festival won the Best Arts & Culture Event at the Middle East Special Events Award in 2018
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