Another Chapter Comes To An End

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Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Ends on a High

Dubai, 14 March, 2016: Emirates Airline Festival of Literature called time on the eighth edition of the annual literary event with a packed performance of Steven Berkoff in his critically-acclaimed one-man play Shakespeare’s Villains. The 12-day Festival, which featured more than 150 authors from 30 countries was the first international literary event of the year, declared by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the Year of Reading.

The Festival was honoured to receive Her Highness Sheikha Latifa Bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, Vice Chairman, Emirates Literature Foundation, Honourary Chairman of the Zayed University Alumni Association Board and His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development at the opening special event, Wahat Al Zaman. Her Excellency Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and CEO of Kalimat publishing house was among the panellists in the International Women’s Day session.

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The Festival is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President & Prime Minister 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 is a key part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, which was established in 2013 by Royal decree.

Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature was delighted by the success of the Festival, saying: ‘We have just experienced almost two weeks of literary inspiration, education, revelation and celebration. Audiences have been enthralled and thrilled by the chance to meet their literary heroes and discover new authors and fresh ideas.

‘The enthusiasm of the authors has been wonderful to see, and we are delighted that the audiences from around the region have responded in kind.

‘The Foundation’s vision of making the world a better place is by encouraging people, especially children, to read for pleasure. We are incredibly grateful that we are able to contribute, in no insignificant way, to the goals of the Year of Reading, declared by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

‘The success of the Festival is down to the guidance provided by the Board of Trustees and the unending support of our sponsors and supporters, in particular our title sponsor Emirates and our partners, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).

‘We would not be able to organise an international Festival of this size without our volunteers who give us so much of their time. The team will have a few well-earned days off before we are busy with plans for next year.’

Dina Al Herais – Vice President Commercial, VIP Customer Relations said: ‘We are proud to have supported another successful year of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which again brought together leading local, regional and international writers to entertain, challenge, and inspire audiences of all ages and tastes. We are waiting, with anticipation, for another exciting edition in 2017 that will continue to raise the bar for literary excellence in the UAE.’

In his turn, Saeed Al Naboodah, Acting Director-General of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority said: ‘We are glad to witness another successful edition of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The event has become one of the most anticipated dates on the global calendar in celebration of the diversified forms of literature from around the world. This year in particular, the Festival was made especially memorable as it coincided with the directives of His Highness Shiekh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan, President of the UAE, to make 2016 the Year of Reading. In addition, Dubai Culture is looking forward to contributing a range of unique collaborations to the festival’s future editions. Through this initiative we hope to showcase the colourful artistic, cultural and social landscape in the Emirate of Dubai. At Dubai Culture, we were keen to host the event for the first time at Al Shindagha historical neighbourhood to leverage the exposure of the international audience at the Festival to our local culture and traditions.’

New at this year’s Festival was the Literary Cruise, the Time Travel Dinner and Spotlight on the Emirates, the opening segment highlighting the UAE’s history and culture, including an evening tribute to one of the UAE’s greatest poets, Mohammed Bin Hadher.

Literary Cruise

The Festival saw more than 40,000 visitors attending the 300 sessions. The highlights included the star-studded Wahat Al Zaman, the annual Orwell Lecture, this year delivered by linguist David Crystal whose talk was accompanied by performances by his co-author Hilary Crystal and actor Ben Crystal, a host of science sessions, introduced for the first time at the Festival. Astronaut Chris Hadfield, screen and stage stars Meera Syal, Robert Lindsay, John Torode, Lisa Faulkner, Nadia Sawalha and popular children’s authors Jacqueline Wilson, Nick Arnold, Lauren Child, Fatima Sharafeddine, Sahar Naja Mahfouz, Maitha Al Khayat and Sean Fay Wolfe drew in huge crowds throughout the Festival.

The Festival organisers also increased the Education Days programme and sessions specifically for students – with many more free events held at schools and various locations around the UAE. Of particular interest was the Festival’s first Poetry Live!: GCSE Poetry Day, a global initiative that brings together poets with the students who read their work. Organisers made every effort to fulfil school requests for authors.

The Festival’s numerous competitions all completed their most successful editions this year. New competitions, the Emirates Airline Capture 380 and the Costa Debate, were incredibly successful and promise to return next year.

Returning competitions, the Taaleem Award resulted in some very good poems in all the age categories, while the Oxford University Press Story Writing competition was even more popular with particularly the 12-14 age group. Students from every Gulf country participated in the Chevron Readers’ Cup and the finals for Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center Qasidah Par Coeur Competition witnessed spine-tingling performances in both Arabic and English.

The Montegrappa Writing Prize, the annual competition for first-time novelists, continued to grow in stature with a massive increase in entries. Eventual winner Karen Osman received a special pen from Montegrappa and will travel to the London Book Fair to meet with publishers and to have lunch with literary agent Luigi Bonomi, with flights courtesy Emirates and accommodation provided by the InterContinental Hotel.

The 2017 Festival will be held from 7-11 March. More details will be available online at

Attending Authors and Topics

Faisal J Abbas, Susan Abulhawa, John Agard, Sulayman Al-Bassam, Noura Al-Khoori, Yusra AlHashimi, David Allen, Shaima AlMarzooqi, Saud Alsanousi, Sultan Al Ameemi, Ibrahim Al Hashimi, Jasim Al Kharaz, Humaid bin Thaiban Al Mansoori, Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Sarah Amiri, Suad Amiry, Simon Armitage, Nick Arnold, Harry Baker, Hoda Barakat, Zeina Hashem Beck, Antony Beevor, Dr Amal Belhoul, Steven Berkoff, Noor Khalid Bin Hamad, Rachel Billington, Luigi Bonomi, Marilyn Booth, Alex Broun, Ahlam Bsharat, Khalid Al Budoor, Michel Bussi, Tony Calderbank, Tom Callaghan, Oscar Campbell, Chris Carter, Susan Casey, Kiran Chhabria, Lauren Child, Chris Cleave, Ann Cleeves, Tim Cleeves, Jenny Colgan, Con Coughlin, Ben Crystal, David Crystal, Hilary Crystal, Abdulla Al Dabbagh, Peter Dale, Diana Darke, Imtiaz Dharker, Michael Dobbs, Carol Ann Duffy, Christopher Edge, Mark Evans, Hatoon Al Fassi, Sean Fay Wolfe, Lisa Faulkner, Liz Fenwick, Sebastian Fitzek, Julian Flanagan, Maha Gargash, Saeed Al Gergawi, Mohammed Al Ghafli, Nujoom Al Ghanem, Dr Rafia Ghubash, AC Grayling, Susan Greenfield, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chris Hadfield, Rachel Hamilton, AF Harrold, Abdullah Ali Hassan, Chris Haughton, Katie Hickman, Victoria Hislop, Liliane van der Hoeven, Petr Horacek, Gill Hornby, Anthony Horowitz, Kika Hotta, Suzanne Husseini, Curtis Jobling, Brian Johnson, Julia Johnson, Dom Joly, Annabel Kantaria, Annabel Karmel, Ghada Karmi, Hala Kazim, Liz Keaney, Mai El Khalifa, Maitha Al Khayat, Adel Khozam, Gill Lewis, Julie Lewis, Robert Lindsay, Jonathan Lloyd, Asma Hilal Lootah, Hessa Lootah, Kate Lord Brown, Shukri Al Mabkhout, Helen Macdonald, Sahar Naja Mahfouz, John Man, Justin Marozzi, Kaltham Salem Abdullah bin Masood, Francis Matthew, Morna McDonald, John McHugo, Alexander McNabb, Cristina Mejia, David Melling, Jonathan Meres, Anchee Min, Marco Missiroli, Al Hanouf Mohammed, Noora Mohammed, Afshin Molavi, Gavin Mortimer, Shihab Al Deen Al Musharaf, Nadia Al Najar, David Neild, Grace Nichols, Garth Nix, Noura Al Noman, Freya North, John Julius Norwich, Korky Paul, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Sultan Al Qassemi, Ian Rankin, Flora Rees, Ali Abu Al Reesh, Raghad Al Safi, John Sampson, Brandon Sanderson, Nadia Sawalha, Talib Shaheen, Badria Al Shamsi, Darren Shan, Fatima Sharafeddine, Hind Shoufani, Jo Simpson, Holly Smale, Tim Spector, Lauren St John, Muhsin Suliman, Meera Syal, Hafidh Aman Thani, John Torode, Ibrahim Ustadi, Selina Walker, James Waterson, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Joe Wicks, Marcia Williams,  Jacqueline Wilson, Hammour Ziada

Poeticians with a PUNCH

Hajer Abdulsalam, Christine Jean Blain, Anne Brechin, Farah Chamma, Dana Dajani, Frank Dullaghan, Marie Dullaghan, Danabelle Gutierrez, Jamal H Iqbal, M. Ali F. Khan


Fahad Almamari, Mohamed Abid, George Mitton, Maryam Ibrahim, Sahar Madani, Neeta Bhushan

Genres featured this year included Arab World, Architecture, Business, Contemporary Fiction, Crime/Thriller, Food & Nutrition, Getting Published, Historical Fiction, History, Illustration, Memoir, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Science, Self-Improvement, Shakespeare, Stage & Screen

Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters
The title sponsor Emirates Airline, in partnership with Dubai Culture, make the Festival possible and the InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, hosts the Festival events and authors. Many other organisations also play an important role as support and sponsors of the event.

Full sponsor list

Emirates Airline (Title sponsor), Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (in partnership with), Abu Dhabi Legal Translators (Supporter), Al Jalila Cultural Center for Children (Supporter), Al Maha (Supporter), American Dental Clinic (Sponsor), Arabian Adventures (Supporter), Arabian Radio Network (Media partner), At the Top (Supporter), Book Worm (Supporter), BPG Possible (Supporter), BPG Cohn & Wolfe (PR partner), British Council (Sponsor), Buzoor (Supporter), Chevron (Readers’ Cup Sponsor), Choirfest Middle East (Supporter), City Sightseeing Dubai (Supporter), Clique (Mobile App developer), Costa Coffee (Costa Debate sponsor), Culture & Co (Supporter), Dubai Network Channels (Media partner), DIFF (Supporter), Digital Theatre (Sponsor), Al Bayan (Media partner), Emarat Al Youm (Media partner), Drawings by Me (Supporter), Dubai Duty Free (Day Sponsor), Dubai Festival City (Supporter), Dubai Municipality (Supporter), Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing (Government partner), Elmo (Supporter), Emirates NBD (Orwell lecture sponsor), Expat Woman (Media partner), Explorer (Media partner), Gulf News (Media partner), Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Center (Qasidah par Coeur sponsor), Higher College of Technology (Academic Partner), Innovation (Event Management partner), Intercontinental (Venue partner), International New York Times (Media partner), IPAF (Session sponsor), Institut Francais (Supporter), Time Out & Time Out Dubai Kids (Media partner), Kenwood Wines (Supporter), Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Foundation (Award sponsor), KHDA (Government partner), Pobble (Supporter), Mai Dubai (Water sponsor), MMI (Supporter), Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (Emirati strand sponsor), Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (Sponsor), Montegrappa (Writing Prize Sponsor), Moore Stephens (Supporter), Murdoch University (Academic partner), Mr. Ben’s Costume Closet (Supporter), Norton Rose Fulbright (Legal Partner), Novo Cinemas (Supporter), O Candy (Supporter), Oxford University Prize (Story writing competition sponsor), Penguin (Fringe sponsor), RTA (Supporter), Scriptor (Supporter), Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (Supporter), Taaleem (Poetry writing competition sponsor), Telegraph (International Media Partner), Tribe (Creative Agency), Vision (International Media Partner), WHSmith (Festival Bookseller), Zayed University (Academic Partner).

All information about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is on-line. Check for updates at Join us on Facebook (, Twitter (, Instagram ( and YouTube ( for competitions and more updates.