Career change, spirituality, personal development, creativity and more on the agenda

Dubai, UAE, XX January 2020: As it’s time to ring out the old and bring in the new, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is announcing a special range of sessions and masterclasses designed to help people reach their goals. Whether seeking to change the world or their career, find a better way to live, harness creativity, start a business or write a bestseller, people from all over Dubai are able to find the inspiration and practical guidance they need at the Festival (4-9 February) to make New Year’s resolutions stick.

Research suggests that the most popular resolutions include being healthier and exercising more, saving money, changing jobs, and taking up hobbies.

Vegan internet sensation Bosh! answers the call of anyone looking to live a healthier life while minimising their impact on the environment. Popular broadcaster and environmentalist Kate Humble advocates the simple act of walking to enhance health and happiness, and is guaranteed to inspire a better way of life. 

The pressures of life are put into perspective by TV presenter, cook and bestselling author Nadiya Hussain as she considers her roles as mother, Muslim, working woman and celebrity. She questions the barriers which many women must cross to be accepted or heard, in a warm, honest and humorous way and highlights how, at the core, all humans are essentially tackling the same issues despite our cultural, social and religious differences.

Gelong Thubten offers advice on how to deal with stress and guides our search for happiness, showing us the meaning of mindfulness. A Tibetan Buddhist monk, he traded life as an actor 25 years ago to become ordained and now teaches mindfulness meditation in busy hospitals, schools and companies such as Google, and to celebrities including Ruby Wax, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton. Thubten also joins our panel of high-profile writers  who investigate how we can gain from understanding the spiritual side of life, with Lesley Hazleton, an award-winning journalist, historian, blogger and author of The First Muslim; Mitch Albom, internationally bestselling author, screenwriter, playwright and award-winning journalist, and Omar Saif Ghobash, the Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs, and author of the acclaimed Letters to a Young Muslim.

Inspiration on how individuals can help fix their world also comes from Edna Adan Ismail and Dr Sanduk Ruit. Surviving imprisonment, persecution, and civil war, Edna Adan Ismail was Somaliland’s first midwife, campaigning tirelessly for better healthcare for women. At 82 years old, she still runs what is hailed as the Horn of Africa’s finest university hospital and has been dubbed “The Muslim Mother Teresa”. Known as the “Nepalese God of Sight”, Dr Ruit chose to defy the world’s medical establishment and the lure of riches to make the world a better place by restoring vision to hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest and most isolated people.

New ways of working

Those seeking changes in their careers in 2020 can find sage advice and actionable guidance at the festival. The Apprentice Asia winner, motivational expert and bestselling business author Jonathan Yabut will share how to transform careers by adopting the idea of Ikigai, the Japanese concept referring to “the thing that you live for” leading to a life that is both more fulfilling and more rewarding. He will also level up presentation skills with his masterclass, showing how to communicate more effectively both privately and in business.

Fast-paced changes to the workplace are explored in the The Possibilities Project; the ultimate handbook for self-discovery, independence and success for young people. This session brings together knowledge from communication educator and award-winning radio/TV presenter and speaker Anna Al Qasimi-Roberts, journalist, writer and Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East Aby Sam Thomas and entrepreneur, CTO and Forbes 30 Under 30 Mashal Waqar, chaired by workplace culture expert Dawn Metcalfe.

The people who survive in a highly competitive, fast-paced and changing work environment are not those with muscles or brains, but those who can lead, inspire and encourage innovation. Emirati writer and change management expert Khalid Al Hosani will share his insights, and explore the different career options that best suit different skills and passions in a workshop with professional development series guru, Maryam Al Balooshi.

Khalifa Almherzi will show how to improve emotional intelligence to effectively analyse emotions, adopting the behaviours required to build successful strategies in work and life. Negotiation and persuasion skills are invaluable in the workplace, and Amel Alali’s workshop gives insight into “diplomatic” methods to help tackle those hard conversations. Body language is also crucial in negotiations, accounting for 55% of first impressions. Body language experts Mohammed Eisa Al Hammadi, a psychologist from the General Department of Forensic Science & Criminology, and Mohammad Sulaiman Al Dhawyani, the Head of Forensic Psychology in Dubai Police, will share their experience to help identify common language in global gestures and body movements.

The secrets of feng shui can be harnessed to achieve success with Grace E Salem’s masterclass on bringing balance to the workplace. Grace has advised hundreds of clients – individuals and businesses – throughout the Arab world on improving their living and work spaces in order to reach their full potential.

Writing to Succeed

This year the LitFest has a multitude of workshops for aspiring writers, whether its fiction, biography, journalism, poetry, screenwriting or song.

Writing advice for gripping crime fiction is on offer from bestseller Linwood Barclay. Acclaimed author and writing teacher Greg Mosse has the inside scoop on how to make a novel daft pitch perfect. There are also workshops on creative writing, editing and pitching to agents with literary agent Luigi Bonomi and editor Alison K Williams. Authors Annabel Kantaria and Jessica Jarlvi will cover the writing technique and give editing tips to help attendees produce a polished manuscript.

Advice on how to capture the essence of a person in writing is on offer from biographer, ghost writer and novelist Wendy Holden. Award-winning author Tamsin Winter will share the secret to writing for young teenagers, explaining how to channel the inner “tweenager”. Emerging writers can also learn about writing historical fiction from Rehan Khan, or the secrets of successful short story-writing from Christina Dalcher, a self-confessed flash fiction addict.

Journalistic skills are on offer in a workshop with Joshua Raven, using his 5fingers novels as a starting point, while journalist and award-winning novelist Stuart Turton will give the scoop on travel writing in the age of cheap travel and Instagram. 

For anyone wanting to learn to write lyrics, to take their song-writing craft to the next level, there is an interactive workshop with award-winning jazz musician and songwriter Chris Read, while slam poetry champion Harry Baker explains how to write and perform poems that will make an impact on the audience. Award-winning poet Eleanor Hooker will show how to make every word count in a workshop where participants are invited to bring a poem they are working on (no more than 40 lines) to discuss and work on in writing and editing exercises.

Adapting a novel for film is not a simple task, but novelist, producer and script-writer Daniela Tully will share the particular challenges and opportunities of screen adaptations, giving an overview of the different steps and skills required to succeed. Anyone wanting to turn their blog into a book would benefit from a masterclass with Sara Sadik, inspired by her own experiences.

Writing in Arabic

Nominated for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) many times, Inaam Kachachi will lead a one-day workshop focusing on realism in fiction, using creative writing exercises to explore the Arabic language in depth. The art of successful story-writing is on offer from Fatima Sharafeddine, who will cover structure and timeline, and show how to create the characters, develop the plot, reveal the evidence and reach a thrilling conclusion. Tareq Imam explains how to avoid the common mistakes in short-story-writing and how to use personal experience skilfully and effectively.  Science Fiction in the Arab world will be explored in a workshop with Yasser M Bahjatt, who will show participants how to develop the plot and events of their novel to engage readers and transport them smoothly into the future or the past. Abdelillah Benarafa will help create unforgettable historical characters that feel real, while writer Maria Dadouch will show how to make the writing witty. Writing for children is tackled by Amal Farah, who has received several awards, including the UNESCO International Prize for children’s literature. The art of illustrating books for children is taught by master illustrator Raouf Karray who designs, illustrates and produces children’s books in Tunisia, Europe and the Arab world.

The Festival 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.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 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.

To buy tickets and for the full list of authors, 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:

NAME 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


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 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

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 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.gov.ae