Dubai, 7 March 2019: The answer to one of literature’s most contentious questions – which is best, Fact or Fiction? – was decided at the culmination of the Costa Debate for 2019, with fabulous fiction proving to be the valiant victor over the more prosaic fact.

This is the sixth year that Costa Coffee has teamed up with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to encourage people of all ages to join in the great debate over a subject of literary interest, showcasing their creative skills with a 300-word piece of prose in Arabic or English championing their chosen viewpoint.

The number of submissions for the competition have increased year-on-year. The most compelling argument won a holiday worth AED10,000 and free coffee for an entire year. Four runners up were also chosen to receive a month’s supply of free coffee.

The winners are:

1)      Ahmed Al Shaali (AED10,000 dnata travel voucher + one year of free coffee)

2)      Arabic runners up – Mohamed Waleed Aleyan & Youssef Homma El Idrissi (one month of free coffee each)

3)     English runners up – Sarah Rinne and Shrish Janarthanan (one month of free coffee each)

The winners were presented with their prize by Shemaine Jones, Head of Marketing at Costa Coffee UAE, whosaid: “I am sure our coffee shops are the venue for many great debates on all sorts of subjects, but in this case we get the opportunity to join in! Reading the Costa Debate entries is always tremendous fun, getting to the heart of what the community in the UAE thinks on a range of literary issues, and this year was no exception, with very strong, persuasive arguments on both sides. I wholeheartedly agree with the winning side!”

Festival 2019 authors continued the debate at the presentation event. On Team FACT was Professor of Biology and author of Human Errors, Dr. Nathan H. Lents who has spent over 20 years researching and writing about genetics, molecular biology, and forensic science. He was joined by journalist Vince Beiser who has exposed conditions in California’s harshest prisons, ridden with the first responders to disasters in Haiti and Nepal and more, and is the author of The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization. 

On Team FICTION was Kuwaiti journalist and writer Taleb Alrefai, who has been a lecturer of creative writing at American University of Kuwait since 2013. He was the Chairman of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2009 and his novel Al Najdi was longlisted for the IPAF in 2018. Joining him was Kate Young, author of The Little Library Cookbook – a collection of recipes inspired by beloved works of fiction, from the treacle tart in Harry Potter to the clam chowder of Moby Dick. 

The Festival programme is brimming with sessions to engage, entertain and inform, with topics encompassing fiction, history, current affairs, food, health, travel, biography, business and more.  There are opportunities to appreciate poetry, take part in creative writing workshops and generally indulge in intelligent and articulate discussion on a wide range of topics. Sessions appeal to all ages and nationalities, featuring outstanding authors, thinkers and opinion formers.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is held 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.

It 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.