Prepare for a literary extravaganza with the launch of the 2015 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Organisers of the Festival confirmed an international roster of authors and celebrities who will be visiting Dubai to shine a beacon on literature and a vast range of other topics.
The Festival was officially launched last night at an evening reception for local authors, dignitaries, sponsors and partners at the InterContinental Hotel, which has been home to the Festival since 2009. More than 120 authors were announced for the five-day Festival, which, earlier this year, was voted Best Festival for the second time at the Middle East Event Awards.
The Festival, now in its seventh year, is part of the Emirates Literature Foundation and will take place in Dubai from 3 to 7 March, 2015. The Festival is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and in partnership with Emirates airline and the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, arts, and heritage.
“As a global airline that connects people to places, passions and opportunities, Emirates is proud to support this annual celebration of the written and spoken word. We believe the Festival of Literature is important for Dubai. It not only attracts visitors, but is also an embodiment of Dubai’s Expo 2020 host city promise to “connect minds, and create the future”, by bringing the best ideas, and the best stories from all around the world to nourish minds and fire our imaginations. Emirates itself continues to work hard to keep our customers connected, inspired and entertained. We are now an airline of more than 230 aircraft, connecting people to new experiences across 147 destinations in 84 countries,” said Mohammad Al Hashimi, Vice-President of Commerical Products at Emirates.
The 2015 programme will welcome a number of best-selling authors including award-winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Egyptian writer Nawal El-Saadawi, genre-defying author Jasper Fforde, Mohsin Hamid, who won critical acclaim for “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia”, David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, which was adapted into a star-studded film, much-loved children’s writer and author of “WarHorse” Michael Morpurgo, Graeme Simsion, whose first novel, “The Rosie Project”, became an instant worldwide success leading to an equally successful sequel and award-winning author of “The Book Thief” Markus Zusak.
Celebrities from around the world will be in attendance, including BBC presenter Anita Anand, traveller Charley Boorman, mathematician and scientist Lewis Dartnell, humanitarian Mukesh Kapila, Ms. Moneypenny Heather McGregor, rugby player turned adventurer Richard Parks, Ted Simon of Jupiter’s Travels, TV director and science journalist Simon Singh, and David Suchet, the man now synonymous with Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.
The Festival has always highlighted poetry and in 2015 welcomes poets from around the world including John Agard from Guyana, Imtiaz Dharker, Yang Lian from China, Cuban poet Victor Rodriguez-Nunez and Welsh poet Owen Sheers at a special evening under the stars.
Thrilling mystery and crime comes to life in the books of Sophie Hannah, who has recently penned a new Hercule Poirot novel, renowned crime thriller writer Stuart MacBride, “No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” author Alexander McCall Smith, and, from the borders of Scandanavia, a particulrarly delicious cold crime-writer Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.
For readers of non-fiction, the Festival’s history strand promises to be enlightening. “Lawrence in Arabia” author Scott Anderson will be in attendance as will Jung Chang, whose memoir “Wild Swans” was an instant best-seller, Bettany Hughes, who has written biographies of Helen of Troy and Socrates, and noted Arab historian Eugene Rogan, all with new titles in time for the Festival.
Dr. Salah Al Qassim, Advisor to the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said, “Dubai Culture is committed to promoting the literary scene of Dubai through our support to initiatives that strengthen intercultural dialogue and build the skills of Dubai-based talents. Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is an ideal fit to our overarching goal of establishing Dubai as a true cultural hub that not only brings together people and ideas but also inspires others to further excel in their creative pursuit. Over the past years, the Festival truly defined its credentials as a world-class event that has enhanced the reading culture in the city and facilitated a greater appreciation for literature and the written word. The seventh Festival promises to bring more diverse authors and topics to the stage, and most importantly, encourage Dubai-based talent to pursue their passion for writing and reading.”
The children’s programme remains firmly at the heart of the festival with Roald Dahl Funny Prize-winning writer Philp Ardagh, John Dougherty, author of the hilarious “Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face” series, “Astrosaurs” writer Steve Cole, young-adult writer Lauren Oliver, along with local writers including young adult science-fiction author Noura Al Noman and “The Case of the Exploding Loo” writer Rachel Hamilton.
Young Festival-goers will also have the wonderful chance to meet the illustrators behind their favourite characters with Michael Foreman, a long-time collaborator of Michael Morpurgo’s, Satoshi Kitamura, illustrator and writer of the “Angry Arthur” series, James Mayhew, the illustrator behind “Katie and Ella Bella Ballerina” and David Tazzyman, the man who brings “Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face” to life.
As part of celebrations for International Women’s Day, there will be a panel discussion featuring HE Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of International Cooperation and Development, Nigerian best-selling writer Chimamanda Adichie, Jenni Murray, universally known for presenting Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4, and historian Bettany Hughes.
The Arab world will be represented by Kaltham Ali Al-Ghanim, Mai Al-Nakib, internationally-renowned author and poet Mourid Barghouti, award-winning poet Zeina Hashem Beck, journalist and columnist Badriah al Bishr, poet and artist Nabil Abou Hamad, chef and author Suzanne Husseini, popular Egyptian novelist Ahmed Mourad and IPAF 2014 winner Ahmed Saadawi.
The theme for the 2015 Festival is “Wonderland”, an apt term for the world of literature and books, and a fitting description of the city of Dubai.
Isobel Abulhoul OBE, CEO of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature commented on this: “The Festival and the world of books, in general, is a ‘Wonderland’, allowing people to disappear into different characters, places and times. The theme also evokes creativity, imagination and innovation, words that have become synonymous with the city of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. For 2015, we have a plethora of award-winning authors, writers and speakers from all over the world joining us here to share with us their ‘literary wonderland’, a place only found between the covers of a book.
“None of this would be possible without the gracious patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who has supported us from the very start. Our sponsors, especially our title sponsor Emirates and our partner Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, have made a lasting commitment to supporting literature in the country and with their vision, it has been possible to make the Festival a world-class event. I would also like to thank our authors, who take precious time out of their busy schedules to be with us and entertain and educate us all. Thank you also to our Festival Friends for their patronage and to the public whose infectious enthusiasm for literature and the Festival lift us up every day.”
The annual workshops and masterclasses are an integral part of the Festival, catering to a wide variety of interests. The prestigious Orwell lecture returns for another year, to be delivered by Nawal El-Saadawi, widely-acclaimed Egyptian writer and academic.
There will be simultaneous translation in Arabic/ English with additional translations in other languages in the majority of sessions.
Genres featured include fiction, journalism, history, poetry, science, sport, self-publishing, creative writing, language, graphic novels, biography, crime/ thriller, travel, children, fantasy, business, illustration, cartoons and comics.
Special Events and Sessions
A treat is in store for the UAE with readings and songs from Michael Morpurgo’s “WarHorse”, plus the first-ever appearance in the Emirates of the lifesize horse puppets, Joey and Topthorn, being staged during the Festival at the theatre at Al Mamzar on March 4. “WarHorse” follows the adventures of a horse during World War One and was adapted to film by Steven Spielberg in 2012.
Other very popular highlight events include Desert Stanzas and the Murder Mystery Dinner, always the first to sell out.
New for 2015 is the Graphic Novel strand featuring writers and artists Zeina Abirached, Naif Al-Muttawa, Clément Baloup, Jan van Hamme, Satoshi Kitamura and Nicolas Wild. Artists and illustrators attending the Festival will also be illustrating a Twitter Story written by Festival authors. Another first for the Festival will be the Stand-Up Comedy workshop, conducted by UK comedian Amanda Baker and Festival moderator Paul Blezard.
Aspiring writers will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have their work reviewed by renowned author Jasper Fforde in Fforde’s Fantastic Feedback. Participants will also have fifteen minutes during the Festival to discuss their work with Fforde.
The Festival Fringe will return, bigger and better, plus young Festival-goers will also be able to enjoy the TimeOut Story Corner.
Education has always been central to the Festival’s mission of promoting a reading culture in the country. The continued success of the students’ competitions has shown that the Festival has achieved a great deal within this field.
Entries for the students’ writing competitions – the Oxford University Press Short Story Writing Competition and Taaleem Poetry Award – have steadily grown over the years and it is expected that 2015 will produce a bumper crop of literary talents.
The Chevron Readers’ Cup generates great excitement from students and adults alike. Over 250 schools participated last year, a number that is set to be surpassed in 2015.
This will be the second year for the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center Qasidah Par Coeur Competition which is now open to a new category catering to 8-13 year olds after the Festival’s success with the 14-18 age-group last year. Students are encouraged to recite poems in Arabic, English or their mother tongue.
The Montegrappa First Fiction Competition has already launched the writing careers of two previous winners, Annabel Kantaria and Rachel Hamilton, who will be attending the 2015 Festival as authors. The competition gives aspiring writers the opportunity to have their work judged by top UK literary agent Luigi Bonomi and a chance to win a trip to the London Book Fair, among other exciting prizes.
Tickets for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will go on sale 15 January 2015. Festival Friends will have exclusive access to tickets one week in advance on 8 January at the Friends discounted price. Tickets can be purchased on-line at emirateslitfest.com and will also be available from the Festival Bookseller, WHSmith’s selected outlets.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s loyalty programme, Festival Friends, is an excellent way to support the Festival in its activities and also guarantees members several benefits including discounted prices and priority booking.
All information about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is on-line. Check for updates at www.emirateslitfest.com. Join us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/emirateslitfest), Twitter (www.twitter.com/emirateslitfest), Instagram (http://instagram.com/EmiratesLitFest) and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/EmiratesLitFest) for competitions and more updates.
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