Dubai, 9 February 2020: The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature drew to a rousing finale today with a session featuring an exceptional night of music, poetry and readings in support of Dubai Cares’ programmes for child refugees across the region. The event capped six days of literary entertainment featuring a record-breaking 206 authors from 43 countries and a strong contingent of home-grown talent, the largest number ever featured at the festival. The Festival’s opening event, Desert Stanzas, an atmospheric evening of world poetry in the desert, was honoured with a visit from Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

Sheikha Bodour Al Qassimi, Vice President of the International Publishers Association gave a key note speech at the Festival’s publishing day and HE Noura Al Kaabi attended the Faith in the Modern World panel, as well as contributed a chapter to the possibilities book which was launched at this year’s Festival. Festival director Ahlam Bolooki said “We are truly privileged to have the support of leaders who lead by example when encouraging the community to engage with the world of books”.


For the first time ever selected festival sessions were live-streamed to almost 100,000 students at 284 schools from each of the seven Emirates.


The Festival took place at the InterContinental, Dubai Festival City from 4-9 February 2020. It 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.


“It fills us with great pride to present this home grown, yet truly international Festival, which grows significantly in depth and substance each year,” said Ahlam Bolooki. “This Festival is our responsibility to our community and to the world, a safe place for dialogue, an opportunity of kindred spirits to connect, and most importantly a place to dream big. And this edition definitely delivered that, and was a very special one.”


“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.”


Many sessions were sold out, including explorer Ranulph Fiennes and mountaineer Chris Bonington, award-winning novelists Esi Edugyan and Fatima Bhutto, visual artist and children’s book illustrator Oliver Jeffers and from the UAE space programme, Hazzaa AlMansouri fresh from his first venture into space.  The BOSH!  Vegan supper, Murder Mystery Dinner featuring Killing Eve creator Luke Jennings, and The Poetryhood Presents were also sold out, as was a special pre-festival event with naturalist Jane Goodall.

The closing evening (9 February) encompassed the best of the Festival, featuring an inspiring selection of performances from poets and writers and the premiere of a song, Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo composed to celebrate the extraordinary story of refugee Nujeen Mustafa, who took part in the evening. All proceeds will go to Dubai Cares.

The fun-filled programme for children  featured  more free family fun events, up 50 per cent from last year, including an interactive session with Magic Phil, one of Dubai’s best-known entertainers and a hit with all his young fans, and the Festival Fringe showcasing drama and music from schools and community groups around the region.


The Festival saw the launch of a ground-breaking book, Tomorrow I Will Fly, written by the inmates of the Penal and Correctional Institutions in Dubai. There was also a dedicated Publishing Day, where global industry experts held sessions, masterclasses and workshops on key aspects of publishing, and a conference for directors of international literary festivals which attracted 30 participants for the four corners of the world.


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.


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.


Attending Authors

Abdula AIKaabi, Abdulaziz bin Ali Al Nuaimi, Abdullah Alhedeyyeh Alshehhi, Aby Sam Thomas, Adam Rutherford, Adeeb Alblooshi, Afra Atiq, Ahmad Nizar, Ahmed Zain Al Hashmi, Alaa Abu Arshid, Alamira Reem Bani Hashim, Alexander McNabb, Ali Al Saloom, Ali AlShaali, Alia AlShamsi, Allison K Williams, Alwyn Hamilton, Alysia Knowles, Amal Farah, Amel Alali, Anna Roberts, Annabel Kantaria, Anne Buist, April Hardy, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Bettany Hughes, Bev James, Bodour Al Qasimi, Brandy Scott, Carlos Andrés Gómez, Cecilia McDowall, Chris Read, Christopher Lloyd, Clare Mackintosh, Coach Kardan, Danabelle Gutierre, Daniela Tully, David Heard, Dawn Metcalfe, Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, Delna Prakashan, Divyata Rajaram, Dubai Abulhoul, Edna Adan Ismail, Eleanor Hooker, Elisabetta Dami, Esi Edugyan, Farah Ali, Farah Chamma, Fatima AlZaabi, Fatima Bhutto, Fatima Sharafeddine, Fiona Ross, Frank Dullaghan, Gavin Thurston, Gelong Thubten, Geronimo Stilton, Ghizlan Guenez, Grace E Salem, Graeme Simsion, Greg Mosse, Hafsa Lodi, Hakeem Kemet, Hamed Al-Yahyai, Harry Baker, Hassan Al matrooshi, Hazzaa AlMansoori, HE Jamal Bin Huwaireb, HE Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Henry Firth, Hind Shoufani, Hoda Barakat, Hussain Al Mutawaa, Ian Theasby, Ibrahim Ahmed Alshami, Iman Ben Chaibah, Isobel Abulhoul, Jamal Al Shehhi, Jamil Adas, Jan Dost, Jane Goodall, Jeannie Baker, Jeetendr Sehdev, Jeremy Hunter, Jessica Jarlvi, Jo Nesbø, Jokha Alharthi, Jonathan Phillips, Jonathan Yabut, Joshua Raven, Julia Johnson, Justin Marozzi, Karen Osman, Kate Hindley, Kate Humble, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Khalid Al Hosani, Khalid Al Naserallah, Khalifa Almherzi, Laila Abdullah, Lesley Hazleton, Linwood Barclay, Lt Colonel Jamila Khalifa Alzaabi, Lucy Strange, Luigi Bonomi, Luke Jennings, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Magic Phil, Maher Gidwani, Major Mohammad Alobaidli, Maria Dadouch, Mariah Idrissi, Marie Dullaghan, Marilyn Booth, Mark Fiddes, Markus Zusak, Martin Kiszko, Maryam Al Balooshi, Maryam Al Serkal, Mashal Waqar, Maz Evans, Miriam Lancewood, Mitch Albom, Mohamad Alattar, Mohamed Qasem, Mohammad Sulaiman Al Dhawyani, Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Mohammed Al Murr, Mohammed Eisa Al Hammadi, Mohammed Hanif, Namal Siddiqui, Nick Cochrane-Dyet, Nujeen Mustafa, Oliver Jeffers, Omaima Alkhamis, Omar AlOwais, Omar Khalifa, Omar Sabbagh, Omar Saif Ghobash, Onjali Q. Raúf, Osama Al Husseini, Parag Khanna, Peter Dale, Porter Anderson, Rachael Lynn, Rachel Hamilton, Rafia Ghubash, Rania Zaghir, Ranulph Fiennes, Raouf Karray, Rasha Al-Duwaisan, Reem Al Kamali, Rehan Khan, Roma Agrawal, Ross Collins, Roudha Al Marri, Rui Cóias, Saeed Al Gergawi, Saeed Karmostaji, Saeed Khamis Al Suwaidi, Salem AlMarri, Salha Obied, Santa Montefiore, Sara Abuljadayel, Sara Al Marzouqi, Sara Sadik, Sara-Jane Arbury, Shamma Al Bastaki, Sheikha Abdulla Bin Jaseem AlMteiri, Sheila Crowley, Simar Halwany, Sir Chris Bonington, Stuart Turton, Suhaib Alises, Sultan AlNeyadi, Tamsin Winter, Tareq Imam, Tayari Jones, The Readers’ Majlis Collective, Tony Juniper, Toorpekai Yousafzai, Wendy Holden, Yasar Jarrar, Yasmina Jraissati, Yasser Alireza, Yasser M Bahjatt, Yazeed Makhlouf, Zaid Adham,  Zanib Mian, Zeina Hashem Beck, Ziauddin Yousafzai.


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.


Title Sponsors: Emirates, Dubai Culture

Sponsors: Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Emirates NBD, du, Investment Corporation of Dubai, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, Dubai Tourism, US Consulate, British Council, Chevron, Costa, Taaleem, Oxford University Press, Montegrappa, Sharjah World Book Capital, The International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Penguin Random House, National Media Council, The Executive Council, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai Airports, Mohammed Bin Rashid University Of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dubai Immigration, Dubai Cares, Dubai Carbon, The Sustainabilist, Arabian Radio Network, Gulf News, Expat Woman, Hills, International New York Times, Al Bayan, Emarat Al Youm, Motivate, Explorer, Intercontinental, MMI, Roads and Transportation Authority, Magrudys, Hamdan Heritage Centre, Ministry of Tolerance, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, Careem, Dubai Police, Abu Dhabi Legal Translation Center, Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK), At the Top, Burj Khalifa, City Sightseeing, Dubai Racing Club, Frying Pan Adventures, La Perle, Meydan, Wander with Nada, Dubai Opera, The Melody House, Murdoch University, Elmo, 3DB, Clyde & Co., Tour Dubai, LEGO, Prolab, Scriptor, DGRADE, Simply Bottles, Trust Your Water.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will return in 2021.

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.