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Why You Should Go: Markus Zusak, UK poet Lemn Sissay, & Egyptian Writer Nawal El-Saadawi Coming To Emirates Lit Fest

emirates lit fest

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The seventh Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, running from 3rd to 7th March at the Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, is set to shake you off your readings seats and usher you into a literary space brimming with a mix of your favourite authors, thinkers that will introduce you to new genres, and poets that will lull you with their words. The event caters to all ages and interests with workshops and sessions that will take your intellect for a spin.

Diverse minds, diverse origins

Some of the biggest literary names will feature in the Emirates Lite Fest 2015 programme including best-selling Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, radio presenter Anita Anand, who has chronicled the amazing story of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, adventurer Charley Boorman, poet Imtiaz Dharker, John Dougherty and David Tazzyman, the writer-illustrator duo behind the hilarious Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face, world-renowned Egyptian writer Nawal El-Saadawi, television broadcaster and historian Bettany Hughes, Angry Arthur illustrator Satoshi Kitamura, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency author Alexander McCall Smith, David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, award-winning children’s writer Michael Morpurgo, who will be reading extracts from his book War Horse at the brand new War Horse Concert and best-selling young adult authors Lauren Oliver and Markus Zusak.

More than 40 authors representing the Arab world will also be present at the Festival to share their literary journey.

What to expect:

Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, shared a glimpse of what people can expect at the 2015 Festival: “We are set to deliver our best Festival yet! There is so much fun and entertainment to be had at the Festival, whether you’re a literature-enthusiast or not. Something for everyone has become our motto in our seven years of existence! Our Festival is an ideal example of why live events are now so popular; each session is unique, not to be repeated, and the Festival is unlike anything else anywhere in the world.

emirates lit fest
Lemn Sissay returns to Emirates Lite Fest this year.
Image Source: shambalafestival.org

UK poet Lemn Sissay makes a welcome return to the Festival after a stunning performance at Desert Stanzas at the 2014 Festival. Emirati poet Adel Khozam, who appeared at the inaugural Desert Stanzas in 2013, also returns. Saif Al Saadi, who recently participated in the Dubai International Writers’ Centre’s Nabati Poetry Conference, will also be at the Festival as will Caroline Sheldon, a top UK literary agent who represents 2015 Festival author Julia Donaldson.

emirates lit fest
Julia Donaldson will charm you with her words and her smile.
Image Source: independent.co.uk

Organisers also announced additional sessions for Julia Donaldson, whose first session sold out within days of going on sale, and Joe Abercrombie, who will participate in The Closed Council where 20 super-fans will enjoy the opportunity to have their burning questions regarding Abercrombie’s books answered by the man himself. South African psychologist and author Adrian Furnham will also be conducting new sessions on getting published in academia and the relationship between creativity and mental illness. Due to the overwhelming demand for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, two more sessions have been added.

Highlights of Emirates Lit Fest:

emirates lit fest
Who’s the murderer? Can you figure it out?
Image Source: emirateslitfest.com

Festival highlights include the brand new War Horse Concert with readings by Michael Morpurgo and music from the West End play as well as the first ever UAE appearance of the War Horse puppets, Joey and Topthorn. Desert Stanzas, a night of poetry and music under the stars and the Murder Mystery Dinner both return this year by popular demand.

The main sessions of the Festival begin from the evening of March 4 with the Wednesday Majlis featuring a lecture by Cambridge Fellow Yasir Al Suleiman and talks by poet Mourid Barghouti, adventurers Nasir Al Dhaheri, Abdullah Al-Jumah and Talal Salem Al Sabri and Arabists and historians Scott Anderson, Charles Glass and Eugene Rogan.

Thursday morning is dedicated to the Female Focus sessions, celebrating the achievements of women with sessions on sparking one’s creativity, financial tips and tricks, overcoming barriers and inspirational stories. The morning is topped by a Ladies’ Lunch presented by celebrated chef Suzanne Husseini.

What’s New?

emirates lit fest
The graphic work of Zeina Abirached. Memorable, huh?
Image Source: http://literaturegraphique.com

New for the Festival this year is the Graphic Novel strand featuring writers and artists Zeina Abirached, award-winning creator of The 99, Naif Al-Muttawa, Clément Baloup, Jean van Hamme and Nicolas Wild.

Also new is Fforde’s Fantastic Feedback, where eight lucky aspiring writers will have the opportunity to have their work reviewed by renowned fantasy author Jasper Fforde at a 15-minute face-to-face session.

The students’ competitions, Chevron Readers’ Cup, Taaleem Poetry Award, the Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition and the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center Qasidah Par Coeur Competition, which included a new age category this year, have received an excellent response from students all over the region. Winners will be announced during the Festival.

It was a particularly successful year for the Montegrappa First Fiction competition with 2013 runner-up Rachel Hamilton’s books being published, 2013 winner Annabel Kantaria earning a book deal with Harlequin which will be published in May 2015 and 2014 runner-up Lucinda Martin earning a book deal with Chicken House. Winners of the 2015 competition will be judged by  premier UK literary agent Luigi Bonomi and announced during his Getting Published session at the Festival.

All in All:

More than 130 authors are confirmed for the seventh Emirates Airline Festival of Literature with over 200 events taking place from March 3-7 at the InterContinental Hotel Dubai Festival City. There are plenty of choices for all the family including ticketed and free events.

Who shall we thank?

A number of main sessions, workshops and special events have already sold out with organisers expecting more than 30,000 guests at the Festival this year, which will take place in Dubai from March 3-7. 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 and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, arts, and heritage. The Festival is now part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, which was established in 2013 by Royal decree.

Want more information?

The Festival’s full author line-up, programme and tickets are available online at www.emirateslitfest.com. Tickets can also be purchased in person at WHSmith stores in Dubai Mall, Marina Mall and Oasis Centre in Dubai and Al Wahda Mall and Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi. The Festival operates a dedicated membership scheme called Festival Friends which offers discounts on tickets as well as benefit packages.

Check for updates at www.emirateslitfest.com or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/emirateslitfest), and on Twitter (www.twitter.com/emirateslitfest).