• Exciting sessions for whole family at EmiratesLitFest include a session all about the splendiferous words of Roald Dahl


Dubai, UAE, January: Fabulous fun and frivolity for all the family is guaranteed at the 2020 Emirates Airline Festival (4-9 February). From exploring the universe, to saving the planet; whizzpopping poppyrot to frobscottling facts of Roald Dahl; plus an unmissable finale to raise funds for child refugees, it’s happening at the Emirates LitFest in one action-packed weekend!

Revel in Roald Dahl’s Rotsome and Repulsant Words with Fiona Ross and Sara-Jane Arbury, who’ll be bringing oodles of foulsome fun with wacky word games, mouth manglers, shouting matches and whizzpopping poppyrot as well as some frobscottling facts. Roald Dahl’s anarchic words lets children discover etymologies, definitions, and fascinating language facts along the way.

Children can take a grand tour of the solar system with space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, inspiring new generations of astronauts, engineers and scientists with her infectious enthusiasm. She will encourage the audience to reach for the stars and find out what’s beyond the final frontier at her lively, fun session.


The amazing ways the human and animal worlds connect will be revealed with author and storyteller Christopher Lloyd, who offers an entertaining look at how slime moulds can help navigate a maze, how rats tickle and laugh out loud, how bees vote in bee elections, and lots more.


Ross Collins brings quirky drawings of animals of all sorts, shapes and sizes or while drawing fun is on offer with Kate Hindley, the illustrator of The Royal Rabbits of London series, and author Santa Montefiore who’ll tell how even the smallest rabbit can be a hero with luck, a moist carrot, a wet nose and a slice of mad courage!


Five fun ways to save the world are on offer with conservation crusading authors who’ll share their ideas on how to protect the planet and make the world of tomorrow one we want to live in. Martin Kiszko,  the “UK’s Green poet”, explores what it means to be green and how to save the planet through the power of poetry. Vegan YouTube sensations BOSH!, Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, shares how to live the vegan life. Jeannie Baker, the superstar of Australian children’s literature, will discuss the environmental themes of her beloved books and show her short film Where the Forest Meets the Sea. Poet Harry Baker and musician Chris Read will bring their optimistic comedy-rap-jazz take on conservation, and songs of hope for the planet. Kiszko also uses poetry to get people talking and thinking about all things green in his solo session, while Jeannie Baker offers insight into her astonishing artistic techniques enabling a look at the world with fresh eyes.


As always, there are story-tellers galore. Onjali Q. Raúf, the author of the award-winning book The Boy at the Back of the Class, returns with an equally thought-provoking book, The Star Outside my Window. Nadiya Hussain’s latest picture book, My Monster and Me, reassures younger children who feel anxious in a comforting and charming way. Zanib Mian, the creator of Planet Omar, brings more tales of the wonderful Omar, the Accidental Trouble Magnet, and shows why being different is a very positive thing. Feelings of not fitting in are also addressed by Tamsin Winter in her funny, heart-warming and moving book Jemima Small Versus the Universe. Tamsin is a previous winner of the Festival’s Montegrappa Writing Prize, as is Lucy Strange, the bestselling author of The Secret of Nightingale Wood, who returns to Dubai with her latest gripping novel, Our Castle by the Sea.


Young festival visitors can meet Lizard and Toad and hear about their wadi adventures with Festival favourite Julia Johnson. Rachel Hamilton brings a tale of The Falcon Who Found His Wings, and children will be delighted by one of Dubai’s best-known entertainers, Magic Phil conjuring up amazing magical marvels and super colourful storytelling.


Fans of YA fiction can explore The world of 5fingers with Joshua Raven, where characters fight for freedom against an enemy with a multitude of faces. Fantasy writer Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands series is an epic story of swirling desert sands, with adventure and danger always close at hand while Rehan Khan offers a quest to locate a fabled suit of armour in sixteenth-century Istanbul. Greek Mythology as you’ve never seen it before is presented by Maz Evans, with an interactive theatre presentation based on her Who Let the Gods Out series.

The Festival will be brought to a close with an extravaganza of music, poetry and readings in support of Dubai Cares’ programmes for child refugees across the region, featuring exceptional performances from the best of the Festival’s renowned poets and writers and  featuring the premiere of a song composed to celebrate the extraordinary story of refugee Nujeen Mustafa – Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo. All proceeds will go to Dubai Cares and tickets are priced from AED 99 to AED 799.

Big names taking part in the Festival Finale include:

  • Bettany Hughes; Historian, writer and TV presenter.
  • Cecilia McDowall; award-winning Oxford composer whose distinctive style speaks directly to listeners, instrumentalists and singers alike.
  • Chris Read; award-winning jazz musician and songwriter.
  • Farah Chamma; Dubai-born Palestinian writer and performer whose work is mainly focused on multilingual poetry performances.
  • Harry Baker; World Poetry Slam Champion.
  • Hazzaa AlMansoori; the first Emirati to travel to space.
  • Kevin Crossley-Holland; prize-winning poet who has worked with acclaimed composers, including Cecilia McDowall with The Girl from Aleppo.
  • Markus Zusak; the international bestselling author of six novels, including The Book Thief.
  • Nujeen Mustafa; the inspiration for The Girl From Aleppo. Aged 16, with her sister, Nujeen braved inconceivable odds to travel in her wheelchair from Syria in search of a new life.
  • Onjali Q. Raúf; author of novel The Boy at the Back of the Class, a story inspired by a Syrian mother and baby she met in a Calais refugee camp which portrays the refugee crisis through the eyes of a child.
  • Ziauddin and Toor Pekai Yousafzai; best known as the parents of Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate.


The festival also has an exciting range of children’s workshops including illustration, journalism, story-writing classes and an acting skills workshop

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature takes place from 4-9 February 2020 and is held with Founding Partners Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture, and under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.


All events take place at the InterContinental, Dubai Festival City, for further details and to book tickets, visit http://www.emirateslitfest.com/shop

More information about the Emirates Literature Foundation can be found online and year-round news about #EmiratesLitFest is available on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.





For more information, please contact:


Tel: +971 (0)55

[email protected]

Rahaf Awad

Tel: +971 55 591 0723

[email protected]




Notes to editors:


  1. About the Emirates Literature Foundation:

The Emirates Literature Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which supports and nurtures a love of literature in the United Arab Emirates and the region, through a programme of varied cultural initiatives.

Established in 2013 by Royal Decree issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Foundation aims to foster a love for literature, with a focus on the Arabic language.

In line with the National Reading Policy of the UAE, the Foundation has implemented several long-term projects including the School Librarian of the Year Award and the annual Arabic Language Week, as well as conducting year-round student education programmes, book clubs and creative writing courses. The Foundation’s previous initiatives included the 2016 Dubai Translation Conference and the 2017 Dubai International Publishing Conference, which hosted a number of international participants.

The Foundation is also the governing body of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the UAE’s premier literary festival, which will be held 4 – 9 February, 2020.

Emirates Literature Foundation

Dar Al Adaab

Al Shindagha Historical Neighbourhood

PO Box 24506

Dubai, UAE



  1. About the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature:

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the Arab World’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, featuring international and regional writers, poets, thinkers and speakers from around the world. In 2019 the Festival reached more than 45,000 people through the Festival’s main programme of events  which featured Ahmed AlShugairi, Chris Gardner, Darcey Bussell, Jane Hawking, Saud Alsanousi, Douglas Coupland, Ian Rankin, Jeff Kinney, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, among many others.

The aim of the Festival is to develop a culture of reading as an enjoyable habit in the UAE, and its efforts have been recognised through many awards over the years. By providing an equal platform for international and locally based talents, the Festival continues to build the literary landscape in the UAE and further afield.

Alongside the main programme, the Festival organises an Education programme, which positively impacted on more than 30,000 students across the UAE in 2019. The programme includes education days, student sessions and author school visits where young people meet and interact with their favourite authors, plus student competitions, held in Arabic and English, which allow young people to showcase their skills through poetry, short stories and reading.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Festival is a key part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, which was established in 2013 by Royal Decree. In partnership with Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be back for 2020.

For information and updates about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature visit the website: www.emirateslitfest.com



  1. About Emirates Airline

Emirates Airline is the world’s largest international airline, flying to 158 destinations in 85 countries. Emirates operates 268 aircraft and is the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 family of aircraft, with pending deliveries for an additional 231 aircraft. The airline’s luxurious amenities, regionally inspired gourmet cuisine, award-winning in-flight entertainment system – ice – and unmatched hospitality provided by its iconic multi-lingual Cabin Crew from over 130 nationalities have made Emirates one of the world’s most recognized airline brands. Emirates has been supporting the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature since 2009, and the event offers an opportunity for the airline to connect with customers in the UAE with a keen interest in literature, and Emirates is committed to  supporting the growing cultural, arts and creative industries in Dubai.


  1. About Dubai Culture and Dubai Art Season

The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) was launched on March 8, 2008 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in order to drive the growth of the city’s artistic and cultural landscape. The Authority has grown to play a major role in the realization of the Dubai Plan 2021, to highlight Dubai as a thriving capital for creative industries and further embed the Emirate’s credentials as a city of happy, creative and empowered people.

As part of its mandate, Dubai Culture has several initiatives that are focused on strengthening both the historic and modern cultural fabric of Dubai, including Dubai Art Season – the city’s premier umbrella arts initiative which kicks off with Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and encompasses Art Week including Art Dubai and SIKKA Art Fair- an annual initiative aimed at promoting Emirati and local artists in the UAE and the wider GCC region, Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre – an annual festival that fosters the art of theatre in the UAE and that celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016, and Dubai Next – a dynamic platform that aims to showcase the Emirate’s cultural ethos and its vibrant creative scene on the global stage.

The Authority’s other key initiatives include Creatopia (www.creatopia.ae) – the nation’s first government empowered virtual community that guides and nurtures the creative culture of the nation and provides a platform of information and opportunities that lead to exposure and personal growth.

Dubai Culture also plays a leading role in support of the UAE National Strategy for Reading 2026, in particular by undertaking a major refurbishment of all Dubai Public Libraries branches to transform them into state-of-art cultural and artistic hubs. Across all of its branches, Dubai Public Library also provides children and young adults with a range of educational and entertaining activities that encourage the use of its facilities. The ‘Our Summer is Filled with Culture & Arts Programme’ is a Dubai Public Library initiative which complements the UAE National Reading Strategy, with its activities open to all age groups, and which revolve around four key themes: happiness, reading, family and the future.

The Authority also manages more than 16 heritage sites across the Emirate, and is a key government stakeholder in the development of the Dubai Historical District. As the custodian Authority of Dubai’s museum sector, Dubai Culture officially launched Etihad Museum in December 2016. The museum provides platform to encourage cultural exchange and to connect Emirati youth with their culture and history. As part of the Authority mandate to support Dubai’s vision of becoming the focal point of diverse cultural exchange (regionally & globally), the museums will play a catalyst role in preserving Emirati Heritage.

For more information on Dubai Culture, visit www.dubaiculture.