The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2015 came to a close after five days of literary celebration. Over 130 authors from around the world held talks, debates and workshops for readers and audiences of every age. The Festival was honoured with a visit from His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development and Her Excellency Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and CEO of Kalimat publishing house at the Opening Night.
The Festival is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and in partnership with Emirates and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, arts, and heritage. The Festival is now part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, which was established in 2013 by Royal decree.
Organisers of the Festival also announced the results of the UAE Favourite Books campaign that was launched in mid-2014. Nearly 1500 people across the UAE participated in the campaign choosing Parapscyhology by Ali al-Wardi as the top Arabic book and Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird as the top English book.
The Festival began with a spectacular Opening ceremony on March 3, sponsored by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, featuring a combined children’s choir of 400 UAE students alongside world-renowned musicians, speakers and the first-ever UAE appearance of the life-size War Horse puppets, Joey and Topthorn. The horse puppets, presented by Handspring Puppet Co. and Janni Younge Productions were the highlight of the Festival’s War Horse Concert, which was held on March 4. Dubai Culture and Arts Authority also sponsored Desert Stanzas: Poetry and Music under the stars.
The written and spoken word was deliberated in over 200 main sessions, workshops and Special events including the annual Orwell Lecture, delivered this year by famed Egyptian writer Nawal El-Saadawi. Other highlight events were the International Women’s Day Panel with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Bettany Hughes, Jenni Murray and HE Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid al Qasimi, Fforde’s Fantastic Feedback, a series of sessions where aspiring writers received instant feedback from fantasy writer Jasper Fforde, Julia Donaldson’s performances of “Is there any such thing as a Gruffalo?” and the history panel with Anita Anand, Scott Anderson, Jesse Blackadder and Bettany Hughes.
Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature was delighted by the success of the Festival, saying: “This has been an amazing year for the Festival with an astounding line-up of the world’s top authors sharing their views and tips on writing, reading and the Wonderland of books. Our programme has always been varied but this year, we have diversified even more, adding a strong children’s illustration strand and introducing graphic novels that appeal to a wider audience.
“The success of this Festival is due to the generous support of our sponsors and supporters, particularly our title sponsor Emirates and our partners, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. Our deepest thanks to the 350-plus volunteers who give so much of their time to make the Festival possible.”
Organisers estimate that over 30,000 visitors attended sessions and the Fringe over the five days of the Festival. The 2015 Festival also saw a 25% increase in ticket sales.
Murder Mystery Dinner proved to be a popular event again this year, giving guests the chance to solve a ‘murder’ at the Festival with the help of visiting authors. It was one of the fastest selling events at the Festival along with Julia Donaldson’s sessions and David Walliams’ talk.
The Festival continued its education focus with more than 12,000 students in 100 schools being visited by international and local authors. Festival organisers also confirmed that they had managed to fulfil author requests from every school this year.
Students also displayed their writing talents at the Taaleem Poetry Award and Oxford University Press Story Writing competition and their knowledge of literature at the Chevron Readers’ Cup. It was the second year of the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center Qasidah Par Coeur Competition, and the addition of a new age category catering to 8-13 year olds proved to be immensely popular. All winners were awarded at prize-giving ceremonies held during the Festival.
The third year of the Montegrappa First Fiction competition saw a massive spike in entries, with submissions doubling from the previous year. As part of the prize, winner Claudine Pabst will travel to the London Book Fair for lunch with literary agent Luigi Bonomi, with flights courtesy Emirates and accommodation provided by the InterContinental Hotel. She also receives a Montegrappa pen.
The 2016 Festival will be held from March 8-12. During the year, the Festival will organise numerous events and workshops at the Dubai International Writers’ Centre, its partner organisation under the Emirates Literature Foundation, in the Al Shindagha Historical Neighbourhood. More details will be available online at emirateslitfest.com
Attending Authors and Topics
Joe Abercrombie, Kamal Abdel-Malek, Zeina Abirached, Dubai Abulhoul, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Saladin Ahmed, Mohammed Khamis Alsulaimani, Kaltham Ali Al-Ghanim, Naif Al-Mutawa, Mai Al-Nakib, Omnia Amin, Anita Anand, Scott Anderson, Philip Ardagh, Clément Baloup, Grahame Baker Smith, Hend Al Bar, Mourid Barghouti, Mary Beardwood, Zeina Hashem Beck, PG Bhaskar, Badriah Al Bishr, Jesse Blackadder, Luigi Bonomi, Charley Boorman, Eric Broug, Alex Broun, Rashad Bukhash, Tom Callaghan, Jung Chang, Zia Chaudhry, Steve Cole, David Crystal, Sofana Dahlan, Dana Dajani, Lewis Dartnell, Nasir Al Dhaheri, Imtiaz Dharker, Julia Donaldson, John Dougherty, Frank Dullaghan, Nawal El-Saadawi, Mark Evans, Liz Fenwick, Jasper Fforde, Klaus Flügge, Michael Foreman, Nicolas Forzy, Joseph Fowler, Adrian Furnham, Yasser Al Gergawi, Charles Glass, Gautam Goenka, Pansy Gonsalvez, Scott Goodfellow, Chris Gribble, Nidhal Guessoum, Reem Al Gurg, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Liz Hadaway, Nabil Abou Hamad, Rachel Hamilton, Jean van Hamme, Sophie Hannah, Muna Harib, Katherine Hedeen, Bettany Hughes, Suzanne Husseini, Brian Johnson, Julia Johnson, Abdullah Al Jumah, Inaam Kachachi, Annabel Kantaria, Mukesh Kapila, Adel Khozam, Satoshi Kitamura, Jason Kouchak, Josh Lacey, Julie Lewis, Yang Lian, Stuart MacBride, Sahar Naja Mahfouz, Lulwah Al Mansouri, Lara Matossian, Alexander McCall Smith, Morna McDonald, Heather McGregor, Leslie McLoughlin, Alexander McNabb, Dawn Metcalfe, Kate Mills, David Mitchell, Michael Morpurgo, Ahmed Mourad, Shaikha Al Muhairi, Jenni Murray, Adila Nasser, David Nicholls, Noura Al Noman, Lauren Oliver, Adele Parks, Richard Parks, Hooda Al Qaddumi, HE Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Fadwa Al Qassem, Peter Robinson, Deborah Rodriguez, Victor Rodriguez Núñez, Eugene Rogan, Ahmed Saadawi, Saif Al Saadi, Talal Salem Al Sabri, Ashwin Sanghi, Habib Al Sayegh, Saira Shah, Kathy Shalhoub, Owen Sheers, Jamal Al Shehhi, Caroline Sheldon, Hind Shoufani, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Ted Simon, Graeme Simsion, Simon Singh, Lemn Sissay, Yasir Suleiman, Walid Taher, David Tazzyman, Tian, Joanna Trollope, David Walliams, Nicolas Wild, Markus Zusak
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.
Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters
The Festival is held thanks to the contributions of the many organisations that sponsor or otherwise support it. The title sponsor Emirates, in partnership with Dubai Culture, make the Festival possible, the InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, hosts the Festival events and authors and there are many organisations that help in numerous ways.
Full sponsor list
Emirates (Title sponsor), Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (in partnership with), Dubai Airports (Emirati strand sponsor), Dubai Duty Free (Day sponsor), Al-Futtaim (Gold sponsor), Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Center (Qasidah par Coeur Competition sponsor), Chevron (Readers’ Cup sponsor), Montegrappa (First Fiction Competition Sponsor), Oxford University Press (Short story writing competition sponsor), Taaleem (Poetry writing competition sponsor), Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Foundation (Award sponsor), Intercontinental (Venue partner), W H Smith (Festival Bookseller), KHDA (Government partner), Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing (Government partner), RTA (Transport partner), Gulf News (Media partner), ITP (Media partner), Dubai Eye 103. 8 (Media partner), Dubai Media Incorporated (Media partner), International New York Times (Media partner), Motivate Publishing (Media partner), Expat Women (Online media partner), Explorer (Media partner), Vision (International Media Partner), Telegraph (International Media Partner), Costa Coffee (Open doors & Children’s workshop sponsor), Emirates NBD (Banking partner), Roads and Transport Authority (Transport partner) American Dental Clinic ( Session Sponsor), Dubai World Trade Centre (Sponsor), Penguin Random House UK (Scavenger Hunt sponsor), Norton Rose Fulbright (Legal Partner), PRG Gearhouse (Audio-visual partner), Ketchum Raad (PR partner), Innovation (Event Management partner), Clique (Mobile App Developer), Gulf Ventures (Supporter), MMI (Supporter), Abu Dhabi Legal translators (Supporter), Pepsi (Supporter), At the Top (Supporter), Book Worm (Supporter), Buzoor (Supporter), Dubai Festival City (Supporter), Dubai Municipality (Supporter), Higher College of Technology (Academic Partner), Zayed University (Academic Partner), Scriptor (Supporter), Culture & Co (Supporter), Agence Kleem (Supporter), Istitut Fracaise (Supporter), Moore Stephens (Supporter), Infinique (Supporter), Lend Me your Literacy (Supporter), Murdoch University (Supporter), Mr. Ben’s Costume Closet (Supporter)
For more information, please contact:
|Sam Al Hashimi, Head of CommunicationsTel: +971 (04) 355 9844 ext 405||Ronita Mohan, PR AdministratorTel: +971 (04) 355 9844 ext 415
Mob: +971 (0) 56 106 7304