The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature celebrates 15 years of culture and creativity
The UAE’s annual literary extravaganza is back featuring almost 300 sessions, from live music and poetry performances to workshops, film screenings, and inspiring talks from some of the biggest names in literature.
The festival is taking place at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City, and across the creek at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library until February 6.
The exciting line-up includes Brian Cox, Emmy-award winning patriarch of the hit streaming series Succession; master-storytellers Mohsin Hamid, Alexander McCall Smith and Jeffrey Archer; children’s writers David Walliams, Ben Miller and Oliver Jeffers, Indian journalist Barkha Dutt, and renowned writer Reza Aslan, who will be in conversation with HE Omar Saif Ghobash and Malaysian journalist and author Marina Mahathir; award-winning Iraqi novelist Inaam Kachachi, notable Saudi poet Jassim Al Saheeh and Emirati author Maisoon Saker Al Qassimi, 2022 winner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.
“The scale of the programme is our greatest yet with 270 authors from around the world participating this year, representing more than 50 nations worldwide”, said Ahlam Bolooki, Festival Director. “What remains the same is that the festival is the place where stories happen, and the range of topics presented over the six days include not just talks and discussions aimed at avid readers but conversations and performances that will engage and enthral those that do not consider themselves book lovers. The festival has cemented its reputation as a showcase of global names, a launchpad for new authors and an incubator for world-changing ideas.”
Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts & Literature Sector at Dubai Culture, affirmed the importance of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature role in activating the literary movement locally and globally, saying: “The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has turned into a qualitative cultural event that annually brings together a group of creatives, writers and authors to discuss topics that reflect the uniqueness of the local and global cultural and creative scene, which supports the commitments of Dubai Culture aimed at empowering creatives and supporting all the cultural and creative events taking place in Dubai, as important platforms for showcasing the creativity of talent”.
Bin Kharbash added: “Over the past years, the festival has succeeded in creating a suitable environment for Emirati writers, intellectuals and talent, and enabling them to express their creativity through a variety of activities, workshops and sessions.”
The Emirates Literature Foundation also announced collaborative agreements with Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, the launch of Elf in Space – a fun and educational initiative with Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center and the start of a 9-month long partnership with Expo City Dubai, culminating in November 2023 when it hosts COP 28.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Library has partnered with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to broaden its reach across the creek for its 2023 edition. The famous structure in Al Jaddaf is a frequent destination for tourists as well as local readers who enjoy the stunning architecture, the variety of books—which includes a rare first edition of William Shakespeare—the ode to Arabic literature in their outdoor gardens, the breath-taking views of the creek, and the building’s convenient access by public transportation.
The cooperation not only enables the festival to offer a wider schedule of activities and accommodate more spectators, but it also symbolizes the union of the communities of literature, art, culture, and lifestyle.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature programme is curated by Festival Director Ahlam Bolooki, Assistant Festival Director Tamreez Inam and their programming team who are joined for the first time ever by a guest curator, Festival Old Friend, Lemn Sissay. The BAFTA-nominated, international prize-winning writer and poet returns to Dubai with a curation of events on poetry and a topic close to his heart, written works about children in care.
The festival continues to cater to the industry and the business of books with a day dedicated to publishing. Aspiring authors in Arabic, English and other languages, can select sessions of their choice from the vast offering on writing, editing, illustrating, translating, and industry secrets, whilst publishers can purchase a Publishing Pass to gain access to all the sessions in this strand.
The festival also offers day-long, weekend and student passes and a limited-edition all-access Crystal Pass with exclusive entry to the Green Room. Also returning is the Festival Fringe, with a host of fun free events and performances for all the family.