Dubai, 11 March, 2017: The annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature rounded off nine days of literary excitement with a number of authors sharing anecdotes of their Festival journey. The ninth Festival celebrated the UAE’s 2017 Month of Reading, as instituted by Festival patron His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Held in partnership with Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated Authority for heritage, arts, and culture, the Festival was honoured to receive Her Highness Sheikha Latifa Bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, Vice Chairman, Emirates Literature Foundation,  and His Excellency Mohammad Al-Murr, Federal National Council Speaker. In addition, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Cabinet Member and Minister of State for Tolerance led the panel discussion on A Time of Tolerance and Her Excellency Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness was part of the panel on Reflections on Happiness and Positivity, the latest book by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. The English edition of which was announced at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which will be released one week later.

Isobel Abulhoul, OBE, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature said of the event, ‘In this, the National Month of Reading, it was a great honour for us to host the launch of the English edition of His Highness’ book at the Festival. Our motto this year was Happiness, Peace, Tolerance and Diversity, themes that resonate within His Highness’ book and which we want to adopt for the future.

‘I was very fortunate to have an early look at the new edition. There is a wealth of ideas and reflections in this book, but this one really stood out for me: ‘A person can fight back tears in a sad situation, but they cannot resist returning a genuine smile.’ These nuggets and more await the reader of this incredible book.’

More than 180 international and regional authors, poets and speakers attended the Festival, with over 70 Arab World authors, including 40 from the UAE, participating.

At the welcome ceremony, Abulhoul said, ‘This is what the Festival has been part of, changing the literary landscape of the UAE for the better, enabling Emirati writers and providing them a platform to showcase their novels and books. We should all be proud of the home-grown talents here in the country.

‘In our first year, the Festival’s Arabic line-up was star-studded but very literary. This year, the breadth of interest from our Emirati authors included talks about major research into literacy, environment, gardening and sports sponsorship. We have had video game designers as well as a table-top gamer; illustrators and animators, and, of course, many writers and poets, with substantial diversity in what they write, plus a number of panels on a diverse range of subjects featuring a mix of Emirati and international speakers.’

Boutros Boutros – Divisional Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand for Emirates said: ‘We are proud to support and lend our name to the Festival of Literature, and we will continue our commitment to bringing in renowned international and Arab authors to the UAE. This event has grown to become a global festival in the literary event calendar, and we believe that it is impeccably aligned with Emirates’ aim of bringing the world closer and connecting people with one another.’

Saeed Al Nabouda, Acting Director General at Dubai Culture, said: ‘We are delighted to witness the outstanding success of the ninth edition of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which has cemented its reputation as the region’s most exciting celebration of the written and spoken word. Our commitment to supporting the Festival springs from our mission to further the UAE National Strategy of Reading 2016-2026, as the event marked a key highlight of the National Month of Reading in March 2017. The Festival is also part of Dubai Culture’s wider efforts to spread a love of reading by immersing residents, visitors, adults and children in the absorbing world of literature.’

Al Nabouda added: ‘As the inaugural event of the fourth edition of Dubai Art Season – the two-month Dubai Culture umbrella initiative that takes places under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority  – Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s rich programme contributes significantly to enriching the Emirate’s cultural calendar. Including interactive installations, workshops, exhibitions and live performances, among other initiatives, it is a fitting start to Dubai Art Season’s unmatched celebration of creativity, innovation and culture. We applaud the efforts of our partner, the Emirates Literature Foundation, and look forward to the next edition of this highly anticipated Festival.’

The Festival held 250 sessions, panels and workshops, as well as Education Days and author school visits. 40,000 visitors attended the event, and more than 25,000 students benefited from the Education programme.

New at this year’s Festival were the Happiness and Tolerance strands, as well as the feature event Cook for Syria, a charity dinner from which all proceeds were donated to Emirates Red Crescent to provide humanitarian aid to the children of Syria. The Festival also held a live play reading of Mystic Life by Leila Aboulela, Afternoon Tea with 2015 Great British Bake-off winner Nadiya Hussain and saw the return of Festival favourites the Murder Mystery Dinner and Desert Stanzas. The annual Orwell Lecture this year was delivered by BBC special correspondent James Naughtie, who talked about the challenging global political climate of today.

Alongside the main sessions, the Festival also conducted its first Residential Creative Writing Courses with award-winning international writers as tutors. The ever popular competitions continued another successful year, Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition, Taaleem Award for poetry, Qasidah Par Coeur poetry performance competition and the Chevron Readers’ Cup all receiving a record number of entries. The Costa Debate returned for its second year, with a brand new debate on ‘Hot vs Cold’.

This year’s Montegrappa Writing Prize, the annual competition for first-time novelists, saw special guest John Hemingway, grandson of Ernest Hemingway and an author himself, present first-prize winner, Rebekah Heaney, with a special edition Montegrappa ‘Hemingway: The Writer’ writing instrument. Heaney also wins a trip to London to further discuss her submission with literary agent Luigi Bonomi, with flights by Emirates Airline and accommodation from InterContinental Hotels,

‘The promise of the Emirates Literature Foundation, governing body of the Festival,’ concluded Abulhoul, ‘is to cultivate a love for reading in all ages. It is the greatest gift that we can give, and in this, the UAE’s Year of Giving, we hope the Festival has sowed the seeds of a reading habit among all who visited.

‘As the Festival team begin planning for 2018, we would like to appreciate the support of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation, as well as our volunteers, sponsors and supporters, without whom this event would not be possible. Special thanks go to our title sponsor Emirates and our partners, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).’

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will return in March, 2018. More details will be available online at www.emirateslitfest.com.

Attending Authors

Leila Aboulela, Izzeldin Abuelaish, Jalal Abuthina, Ahmed Al Ali, Bader Najeeb Al Awadhi, Badriah Al Bishr, Bothayna Wail Al Essa, Khalaf Ahmed Al Habtoor, Hamad Al Hammady, Ibtihaj Al Harthi, Abdullah Al Jumah, Monther Al Kabbani, Reem Al Kamali, Abdulla Al Karam, Maitha Al Khayat, Noura Al Khoori, Rabai Khalil Al Madhoun, Sharif Al Maghraby, Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Shaima Al Marzooqi, Samar Al Mashta, Sadjedah Al Mousawi, Hassan Al Naboodah, Noura Al Noman, Abdulaziz bin Ali Al Nuaimi, Mohammed Al Nughaimish, Omaira Farooq Al Olama, Hooda Al Shawa Al Qaddumi, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Sultan Al Qassemi, Shahad Al Rawi, Her Excellency Ohood Al Roumi, Ahmed Al Shoaibi, Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Eman Al Yousuf, Adnan Alaoda, Ahmed Farooq Alawar, Saeed AlBadi, Hend Albadwawi, Zainab Ibrahim AlBlooshi, Laura Allais-Maré, Fakhra AlMansouri, AbdullAziz AlMusallam, Nawal Alnuaimi, Abdulla AlSaadi, Eman Talal Alsayed, Nasser Altamemi, Maryam Alzaabi, Sana Amanat, Sarah Amiri, Iobel Andemicael, Jeffrey Archer, Afra Atiq, Mourid Barghouti, Tamim Barghouti, Zeina Hashem Beck, George Berbari, Khaled Bin Hamad, Ebrahim Bin Hatem, Ammar Bin Hatim, Awad Bin Mojrin, Jalal Jamal Bin Thaneya, Kamelia Bin Zaal, Arif Ali Bishoh, Luigi Bonomi, Anne Brechin, Alex Broun, Charlotte Butterfield, Ram Buxani, Richard Byrne, Amanda Calderon, Tom Callaghan, Oscar Campbell, Farah Chamma, Meredith Chipperton, Maria Conceicao, Michael Cooperson, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Nigel Cumberland, Dana Dajani, Peter Dale, Andrew Davies, Robert Davies, Jill Dawson, Peri Desai, Dalia Dogmoch Soubra, Frank Dullaghan, Marie Dullaghan, Martin Edwards, Abi Elphinstone, Mansoura Ez Eldin, Amal Farah, Ibrahim Farghali, Mark Fiddes, Michael Foreman, Nicolas Forzy, Peter Frankopan, Michael Freeman, Heidi Frost, Patrick Gale, Carmine Gallo, Frank Gardner, Anthony Geffen, Khalil Ghadri, Sabrina Ghayour, Omar Saif Ghobash, Bryony Gordon, Candy Gourlay, Emily Grossman, Danabelle Gutierrez, Fahed Haikal, Peter F Hamilton, Rachel Hamilton, Frances Hardinge, April Hardy, Mohammed Saeed Harib, Lucy Hawking, David Heard, Frauke Heard-Bey, John Hemingway, Nadia L Hohn, Bettany Hughes, Nadiya Hussain, Omar Ismail, Ivan Jakovljevic, Nicholo Jallores, Jessica Jarlvi, Piyush Jha, Julia Johnson, Tim Jones, Kamiran Kanjo, Annabel Kantaria, Nisha Katona, Yasmina Khadra, Mai El Khalifa, Vaseem Khan, Parag Khanna, Raymond Khoury, Christina Lamb, Tanya Landman, Julie Lewis, Jonathan Lloyd, Hussain Ali Lootah, Eric Van Lustbader, Victoria Lustbader, Paul MacAlindin, Sahar Naja Mahfouz, Jamal Mahjoub, Jo Malone, Jo Marchant, Sarah McIntyre, Colm McLoughlin, Alexander McNabb, Andy Miller, Ben Miller, Kei Miller, Bernard Minier, Sue Moorcroft, Ciaran Mulhern, Tamsyn Murray, Nujeen Mustafa, James Naughtie, Rana Nejem, Sonia Nimr, Zora O’Neill, Sarah Outen, Yousef Ozair, Adnan Pachachi, JE Peterson, Liz Porter, Richard Porter, Smriti Prasadam-Halls, Mohammad Rabie, Sophie Le Ray, Philip Reeve, Kathy Reichs, Jon Ronson, Kerby Rosanes, Carla Saad, Rosine Saad, Sara Sadik, Mostafa Salameh, Simon Scarrow, Charlie Scott, Joan Scott-Minter, Anthony Seldon, Fatima Sharafeddine, Hind Shoufani, Neel Shukla, Ramesh Shukla, Francesca Simon, Andy Stanton, Lucy Strange, Keith Stuart, Thalia Suzuma, Salah Tahlak, Priyanka Talwar, Mehr Tarar, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, Kanishk Tharoor, Andy Thompson, Alan Titchmarsh, Piers Torday, Hany Torky, Robert Twigger, Eleanor Updale, Ashlee Vance, Abir Wakill, Eve White, Hananah Zaheer

Festival Genres

Adults’ Workshops, Biography & Memoir, Business & Economics, Children – Young Adult, Children & YA Workshops, Children 5 & Under, Children 6+, Children 9+, Comics & Animation, Conservation, Creative Writing Course, Crime & Thriller, Culture & Folklore, Emirati, Family, Feature Events, Fiction, Food & Nutrition, Gaming & Technology, Gender, Getting Published, Happiness, Historical Fiction, History, Illustration & Design, Mystery Tour, Photography, Poetry & Spoken Word, Politics & Current Affairs, Prize Giving, Psychology & Health, Science & Nature, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Stage & Screen, Tolerance, Travel & Sport

Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters
Organisers of the Festival would like to thank their partners and sponsors, without whom the Festival would not be possible. Special thanks go to title sponsor Emirates Airline, partner Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, as well as the InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, which hosts the Festival events and authors. Thanks are extended to the many other organisations that support and sponsor the varied aspects of the Festival.

Full sponsor list

Emirates Airline (Title Sponsor), Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (In Partnership with), 3db (Supporter), ADLTC (Supporter), Al Bayan (Media Partner), Al Maha (Supporter), Arabian Adventures (Supporter), ARN – Dubai Eye 103.8 (Media Partner), At the Top (Supporter), Bookish (Supporter), BPG Cohn & Wolfe (PR Partner), British Council (Strand Sponsor), Careem (Supporter), Chevron (Readers’ Cup Sponsor), City Sightseeing – Dubai (Supporter), Community Development Authority (Supporter), Costa Coffee (Debate & Children’s Book Group Sponsor), DIFF (Supporter), Digital Theatre (Supporter), Drawing by ME (Supporter), Dubai Airports (Strand Sponsor), Dubai Customs & Grand Stores (Session Sponsor), Dubai Duty Free (Day Sponsor), Dubai Festival City Mall (Mall Sponsor), Dubai Police (Session Sponsor), Dubai Tourism (Government Partner), Dubai Municipality (Government Supporter), DWTC (F & B Sponsor), Elmo (Supporter), Emarat Al Youm (Media Partner), Emirates Red Crescent (Supporter), Emirates Literature Foundation, Emirates NBD (Orwell Lecture Sponsor), Expat Woman (Media Partner), Explorer (Media Partner), General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (Supporter), Gulf News (Media Partner), Hachette with Disney (Supporter), Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Center (Supporter), Hills Advertising LLC (Media Partner), Innovation (Featured Events Management Partner), Intercontinental (Venue Partner), INYT (International Media Partner), IPAF (Session Sponsor), Time Out  &Time Out Dubai Kids (Media Partner), Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Foundation (Award Sponsor), KHDA (Government Partner), Magrudy’s (Festival Bookseller), Mai Dubai (Water Supplier), MBRKF (Emirati Strand Sponsor), Ministry of Education (Academic Supporter), MMI (F & B Sponsor), Montegrappa (Writing Prize Sponsor), Moore Stephens (Supporter), Motivate (Media Partner), Murdoch University (Supporter), Novo Cinemas (Supporter), National Media Council (Supporter), Oxford University Press (Short Story Competition Sponsor), Penguin (Fringe Sponsor), Presidential Transport (Supporter), RTA (Sponsor), Scriptor (Supporter), Seven Sands (F & B Sponsor), Sofitel (Supporter), Spinney’s (Supporter), Taaleem (Poetry Writing Competition Sponsor), The Higher College of Technology (Academic Partner, the Tribe (Creative Agency), Trinity (Fringe Supporter), Vision (International Media Sponsor), Wanna Read (Reading Charity), Which School Advisor (Supporter), Zayed University (Academic Partner)

More information about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature can be found online. Fans can keep up to date with #DubaiLitFest action on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and year-round news of #ELFDubai on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.