Dubai, 9 March 2019: The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature drew to a rousing finale today with a sold-out session featuring one of the most influential media celebrities in the Arab world, Ahmed AlShugairi. The event capped nine days of literary entertainment featuring more than 175 authors from around the world representing more than 40 nations worldwide. The Festival took place at the InterContinental Hotel, from Dubai Festival City 1-9 March 2019.

The Festival is held 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 and 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 begins Dubai Culture’s flagship art initiative Dubai Art Season (DAS), which features a two-month citywide activation of art events.

Festival director Ahlam Bolooki said, “We have been treated to nine days of exceptional literary experiences, celebrating words and thoughts in all their forms.  We have taken part in riveting conversations, though-provoking discussions, discovered new ideas, had our imaginations wakened and been thoroughly entertained by the amazing authors we have had the privilege to welcome to our Festival this year.

“Our Festival would not be possible without the support of the Board of Trustees of the Emirates Literature Foundation, and our many sponsors, chiefly our title sponsor, Emirates Airline, and our partners, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. We are grateful for the continued participation of the UAE’s educational institutions and the community at large. Our Foundation Friends and the Festival audiences are our core group of supporters who have helped make the Festival the success it is today. We are a small team and rely on the dedication of our volunteers to be able to run a complex and large event and we are deeply thankful for their hard work. And last, but not least, a massive ‘thank you’ to the Foundation team, who work year-round on making the Festival a reality.”

The exciting line-up included author of the Pursuit of Happyness, Chris Gardner, whose real-life rags to riches story was portrayed by Will Smith in the hit film; world-renowned ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell; Jane Hawking, whose best-selling memoir of her marriage with genius Stephen Hawking was turned into the film, Travelling to Infinity; IPAF winner Saud Alsanousi; novelist and artist Douglas Coupland, who defined Generation X; master of crime fiction Ian Rankin, and many more.

More than 1,700 children were entertained by Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney in his hilarious fast-paced show and crowds of YA fans came to see their heroes Cassandra Clare, Holly Black and Victoria Aveyard. The children’s programme included favourite characters such as the Demon Headmaster, Isadora Moon and Bee Boy with lots of free family fun events and the Festival Fringe showcasing drama and music from schools and community groups around the region.

Special Events included a dedicated Youth Day which attracted more than 1,200 young people to the dynamic sessions designed to engage, inform and inspire the up and coming generation of the UAE; a ‘United by Food’ dinner celebrating the ways we are all connected by words and food; the return of the Festival’s atmospheric landmark event Desert Stanzas; and The Murder Mystery Dinner featuring legendary DJ Tony Blackburn.

A host of powerful panel session showcased the Festival’s diversity of genres. Highlight sessions included a powerful International Women’s Day panel on the global movement for gender equality and discussions on Tolerance, Sustainability and Future Worlds, including the impact of AI and Globotics, while the Festival theme ‘United by Words’ informed many of the sessions

The Festival programme also included a dedicated Publishing Day, where global industry experts held sessions, masterclasses and workshops on key aspects of publishing, while experts on the Business Day discussed the latest thinking on a range of topics to help business leaders give their companies the edge.

Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Divisional Senior Vice President Commercial Operations, Centre for Emirates Airline said: “We are proud to have supported another successful year of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which brought together some of the brightest minds and most articulate and passionate voices in the literary world to engage in a myriad of topics and themes. We hope to continue to support the festival to scale greater heights, and are committed to championing arts and culture in Dubai.”

Saeed Al Nabouda, Acting Director General at Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, commented: “Literature is an important part of any society and Dubai Culture, in line with the UAE National Strategy for Reading 2026, supports initiatives and efforts, which highlight the importance of reading and literature for creating a happy and intellectually empowered society. Over the years, Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature has become a hub of ideas and knowledge, that brings to Dubai, authors, academic experts, and literature lovers, from all across the world. Today, as the Festival comes to a successful close, it has further strengthened the literature sector in the Emirate, by convening authors from every corner of the world who brought in the vast wealth of literature and shared the joys of reading with the community in Dubai.”

This year saw a record increase in the number of students participating in the Festival’s children’s competitions, the Taaleem Award for poetry writing, the Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition, Chevron Readers’ Cup and Emirates NBD Poetry for All Competition for poetry performance which included participation by students of determination.

In addition, more than 29,000 students from around the GCC took part in the Festival this year, enjoying the unique opportunity to interact with and hear from a top international author, either at the Festival or at their schools and universities.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will return in 2020. More details will be available online at www.emirateslitfest.com

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.

Attending Authors

Abdullah Al Maghlooth, Abdullah Al Neaimi, Abdullah Alhedeyyeh Alshehhi, Abdulwahab Alsayed Al-Rifaee, Adel Ali Mohammed Alsumaiti, Aditi Belame Kumar, Afra Atiq, Ahlam Bsharat, Ahmad AlShugairi, Alannah Hill, Alexandra Maia, Allison K Williams, Amna Al Mansouri, Anis Chouchene, Annabel Kantaria, Anuradha Vijayakrishnan, Ashis Ray, Asma Kalban, Awad Al Darmaki, Aziz Mohamed, Basemah Al-Wazzan       , Bassam Chebaro, Ben Lyttleton, Bothayna Al-Essa, Brandy Scott, Butheina Kazim, Cassandra Clare, Charles Cumming, Chitra Soundar             , Chris Brookmyre, Chris Gardner, Cixin Liu, Clare Mackintosh, Colette Barr, Courtney Brandt, Dana Alblooshi, Daniela Tully, Darcey Bussell, Dawn Metcalfe, Divyata Rajaram, Douglas Coupland, Dubai Abulhoul, Edward Winterhalder, Fabi Santiago, Fadi Hammadeh, Fadi Zaghmout, Fahad Aloadah, Francesca Affleck, Frank Dullaghan, Gamze Hakli Geray, Gaurav Sinha, Gerd Leonhard, Ghanim Samarrai, Giles Yeo, Gillian Cross, Greg Mosse, Hafidh Aman Thani, Hala Al Bassar, Hanan Sayed Worrell, Hananah Zaheer, Harriet Muncaster, Hazaa AlMansouri, Hessa AlMehairi, Hessa Lootah, Hind Shoufani, Holly Black, Huzama Habayeb, Ian Rankin, Ibrahim Al Marzouqi, Ibrahim Ustadi, Iman Ben Chaibah, Jaafar Salman, Jabbour Douaihy, Jamal Bin Huwaireb, James Owens, Jane Hawking, Jasper Fforde, Jeff Kinney, Jessica Jarlvi, Jon Burgerman, Jo Cantello, Joshua Seigal, Julia Johnson, Karen Osman, Kate Pankhurst, Kate Young, Katherine Ormerod, Kathy Hoopmann, Keith Stuart, Khaled Al Jaberi, Khalid Nasser Alrazooqi, Kim A. Page, Kristin Sherry, Lalage Snow, Leo Carew, Leon McCarron, Leona Collins, Lewis Hyde, Lewis Dartnell, Lina Tarakji, LionHeart, Lucy Siegle, Luigi Bonomi, Maitha Al Khayat, Majid Al Qassimi, Malachy Tallack, Mana’a AlMaeeni, Manar Abdulqader Al Hammadi, Mansoor Anwar Habib, Marisa Haetzman, Mark Huckerby, Martin Puchner, Matt Dickinson, Maya Fidawi, Melanie Swan, Mira Manek, Mohamed Al Marzooqi, Mohamed Parham Al Awadhi, Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Mona Yakzan, Murzban F. Shroff, Nabiha Mheidly, Nadifa Mohamed, Nasser Assi, Nathan H. Lents, Nick Ostler, Nicola Tallis, Nicola Morgan, Oussama Ibrahim, Pamela Butchart, Patricia Vigderman, Patricia Millns, Paul Evans, Paulo Lemos Horta, Peter Dale, Peter Frankopan, Peyman Parham Al Awadhi, Pierce Brown, R. Neil Hewison, Rachel Hamilton, Rafia Ghubash, Raja Al Gurg, Rania Zbib Daher, Ravi Shankar, Rawan Dabbas, Rehan Khan, Richard Baldwin, Richard Dean, Robin Stevens, Ross Montgomery, Roudha Al Marri, Rowan Hooper, Saeed Abdullah Al Madhloum, Salem Al Marri, Sally Helgesen, Samuel I. Schwartz, Sandhya Menon, Sara Sadik, Saud Alsanousi, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Shadi Al Hasan, Shahad Al Rawi, Shereen Abouelnaga, Sherif Arafa, Shihab Ghanem, Sue Nelson, Sultan AlNeyadi, Susan Mears, Talal Aljunaibi, Taleb Alrefai, Taran Matharu, Tarek El Bolbol, Thalia Suzuma, Tom McLaughlin, Tony De Saulles, Tony Blackburn, Trine Hahnemann, Ty Tashiro, Victoria Aveyard, Vince Beiser, Wendy Yorke, You Jung Byun, Zeina Hashem Beck, Zelda la Grange

Festival Genres

Contemporary fiction of all kinds, from romance to crime, fantasy to domestic noir, Young Adult (YA) to young children. Non-fiction topics covered memoir, history, science, exploration, well-being, business leadership and more.

Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters

The title sponsor Emirates Airline, in partnership with Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirates dedicated entity for culture, arts and heritage, make the Festival possible, and the InterContinental, Dubai Festival City, hosts the Festival events and authors. Organisers of the Festival extend their thanks to the many other organisations that also play an important role as supporters and sponsors of the event.

Full sponsor list

Title Sponsors: Emirates

Festival Partner: Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture)

Sponsors: British Council, Chevron, Costa, Dubai Tourism, Dubai Duty Free, Emirates NBD, Investment Corporation of Dubai, International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Magrudy’s, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, Montegrappa, Oxford University Press, Penguin, Taaleem, The Executive Council, US Consulate General of Dubai

Media Partners: Al Bayan, Arabian Radio Network, Middle East Film and Comic Con. Dubai Media Incorporated, Dubai Airports, Dubai Post, Emarat Al Youm, Expat Woman, Explorer, Gulf News, Hills Advertising L.L.C., International New York Times, Masar Printing & Publishing, Motivate Media Group

Partners: Al Maha Desert Resort, Careem, Dubai Festival City, Dubai Carbon, Dubai World Trade Centre, Emirates Holidays, flydubai, Hamdan Heritage Centre, Intercontinental, Jebel Ali Hotel, Marhaba, MMI, Novo Cinemas, Roda Hotel, Siemens, Tour Dubai, Arabian Adventures, At the Top, City Sightseeing, Dubai Opera, Dubai Racing Club, Frying Pan Adventures, Hero OdySEA, La Perle, Meydan, Wander with Nada, Zabeel Stables.

Government Partners: ADEK, Dubai Health Authority, General Directorate Of Residency And Foreigners Affairs, Dubai Police, Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Ministry of Culture           and Knowledge Development, Ministry of Tolerance, National Media Council, Roads & Transportation Authority.

Supporters: Dubai Cares, 3db, Abu Dhabi Legal Translation, Community Development Authority, Drawings by me, Elmo, Emirates Publishing Association, LEGO (ThinkPlayMe), Moore Stephens, Murdoch University, Norton Rose Fulbright, Prolab, Scriptor, Storytel, Protect your Water, Watani.