The Middle East’s largest celebration of written and spoken word will take place 4-9 February 2020

United Arab Emirates, Dubai – 2 October 2019: Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, The Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will return for its 12th edition with new dates and a fresh format. Set to take place 4-9 February 2020 at InterContinental Dubai – Festival City, the homegrown Festival is the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together with authors from around the world to promote the love of reading, writing and great conversation.

The new five-day programme for the 2020 edition will host more than 130 sought-after international and local authors, exploring the topics that matter most. Audiences can expect a stellar line-up of writers of fiction and non-fiction, memoir, history, science, exploration, well-being, business leadership, children’s stories and much more.

Ahlam Bolooki, Festival Director said: “No two Festivals are ever the same, and we are very excited about the coming edition. The shorter format means all our authors will have a chance to meet and interact, and we can look forward to some spectacular panel discussions. Some old favourite Festival features will return along with new developments. While it is still the community’s favourite festival, it will also be new and different. What hasn’t changed is our commitment to world-class writers and stimulating the conversations that matter most to us all. As always, the programme will offer something for everyone, whether they are compulsive readers or haven’t read a book in years and no matter where their interests lie.”

Hala Badri said: “The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the inaugural event of Dubai Art Season 2020, held under the flagship of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). We are fully committed to supporting the Festival and to promoting a love of reading across our nation. As His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said, the spread of knowledge through literature is key to our development and innovation. In line with the Dubai Plan 2021 to make Dubai a city of happy, empowered and proud individuals, we encourage all of the community to take part in the Festival and to witness the array of world-class authors in attendance. We, at Dubai Culture, the founding partners of this Festival, strive to foster and develop talented individuals across all sectors, and to boost creativity, which will sustain Dubai as a destination for distinguished minds.”

The annual event in Dubai promotes books, reading and the richness of words in all their forms. It brings an appreciation and understanding of different cultures and how literature enhances all our lives. The Festival offers an opportunity to meet local and world-famous authors, attend literary debates and workshops, participate in competitions and be inspired by literary heroes.

Launched in 2009 with 65 authors through the hard work of passionate individuals from the local community and the support of founding partners Emirates and Dubai Culture, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has grown rapidly. In 2019, it welcomed more than 180 authors from 40 countries around the world to entertain and engage more than 45,000 people. Recognised for the impact it has had on promoting a reading culture in the UAE, and its extensive education outreach programme, it has won many awards, including Best Festival in the Middle East three times. A cherished feature of the Festival has been the close ties it has to its diverse community; an open feedback loop means it can consider its audiences’ wishes in its programme, format and even dates and times.   

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


For more information, please contact:

Elise Butler Tel: +971 (0)55 980 6697 [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 from 1-9 March, 2019.

Emirates Literature Foundation

Dar Al Adaab

Al Shindagha Historical Neighbourhood

PO Box 24506

Dubai, UAE


2. 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 2018, 41,780 visitors enjoyed the Festival’s main programme of events starring David Walliams, Jacqueline Wilson, His Excellency Omar Saif Ghobash, Anthony Horowitz and Shashi Tharoor, 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 28,000 students across the UAE in 2018. 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 on from 1-9 March 2019.

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

3. 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.

4. About Dubai Arts & Culture Authority

On 8th March 2008, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, launched Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). The mandate of the Authority is to serve as a dedicated entity for culture, arts, heritage, and literature in the Emirate of Dubai, and to drive the growth of the city’s artistic and cultural landscape.

Dubai Culture focuses on establishing Dubai as a regional and global centre for creativity, and also seeks to enhance the city’s cultural identity in order to drive the creative economy. The Authority strives to enhance the quality of life for Dubai residents to help achieve a key pillar of the Dubai Plan 2021 objectives, which is to create a city of happy, creative, and empowered people. In May 2016, Dubai Culture was recognised as the first Happiness Partner to execute the Happiness Agenda in partnership with Smart Dubai. Under this, Dubai Culture will support Smart Dubai to lead a cultural shift in the city, through programmes and projects aimed at building awareness, and influencing individuals, businesses, and city leadership to prioritise happiness.

Under the leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture, the Authority has played an integral role in reinforcing Dubai’s position as a vibrant global centre for creativity, and in enhancing the city’s cultural identity.

As part of its mandate to strengthen the city’s creative fabric by supporting the main disciplines of art – visual arts, performing arts, film, music, and literature, Dubai Culture drives and supports many initiatives in the Emirate’s cultural calendar including Dubai Art Season and SIKKA Art Fair.

Dubai Culture not only recognises talent, but also honours patrons that stand behind the growth of the landscape through awards like Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons of the Arts Awards. Additionally, aligning its focus towards literature, the Authority plays a leading role in supporting the UAE National Strategy for Reading 2026, which was launched in 2016 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Dubai Culture also manages eight Dubai Public Library branches and a strategic initiative was launched in early 2016 to renew all the public libraries, which are prominent centres for promoting culture and knowledge.