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Organisers of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature are reporting strong sales for special events, including sessions featuring David Walliams and Nadiya Hussain, as well as the celebration of Charles Dicken’s 210th birthday with his great-great-great granddaughter Lucinda Dickens Hawksley at Miss Havisham’s Wedding. The Festival is taking place from 3-13 February at its new canalside venue for 2022, the Habtoor City Hotels. David Walliams will be bringing mad-cap hilarity with his popular characters, Mega Monster and Gangsta Granny, for three fun-packed events demonstrating why he is one of the most popular children’s writers of our time. Selling like hot cakes are tickets to join Great British Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain for Saturday Supper, with a menu inspired by the recipes in her latest books and TV series, Nadiya Bakes and Nadiya’s Fast Flavours. Since winning the show in 2015, Nadiya has not only become one of the most popular TV cooks, but a bestselling author and mental health campaigner too. Find out how she juggles her life in and out of the spotlight whilst enjoying a delicious flavour-filled supper on Saturday 5 February.
HE Omar Ghobash, Assistant Minister for Culture and Public Diplomacy at the UAE’s Foreign Ministry, will be discussing his first foray into fiction on 3 February, as his latest book details a fictionalised account of the last 24 hours of his father’s life and the circumstances surrounding his death. HE Ghobash will be talking for the first time about finding his voice as a novelist, and the challenges of writing fiction inspired by fact. Miss Havisham, the iconic jilted spinster from Dickens’ Great Expectations, is one of literature’s most memorable characters. This year the LitFest is paying tribute to Dickens’ women with a celebratory dinner on Monday 7 February, the 210th anniversary of Dickens’ birth, and the great-great-great granddaughter of Charles Dickens himself, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, will be the special guest, bringing insight into the great man’s life and the women in his stories. Audiences are encouraged to dress for the occasion, and wedding gowns are welcome. Foodies can get an authentic taste of Italy with Alessandro Borghese, one of the most famous chefs and restaurateurs in Italy. The tantalising menu at the Taste of Italy event on Sunday 13 February will feature recipes inspired by Borghese’s latest book Cacio & Pepe which combines his recipes with anecdotes from his life. The power of the word and its ability to transcend divisions is celebrated against the exhilarating backdrop of Expo on 7 February, with spinetingling performances from multi award-winning poets Dr Afra Atiq and Colombian-American Carlos Andrés Gómez, accompanied by Brent Shuttleworth, a Nashville-based singer/songwriter/producer.
This truly memorable event at Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre, Expo 2020, is expected to be a Festival highlight and predicted to have audiences talking about it for years to come. The Festival’s signature event, Desert Stanzas returns on Tuesday, 8 February. This is an unforgettable only-in-Dubai atmospheric night of poetry under the stars and among the sand dunes, with a heavyweight line-up of top world poets accompanied by an oud player and a traditional Emirati buffet as refreshment. The line-up included Nikita Gill, considered to be one of the leading Instapoets, using social media to engage her audiences; Sasha Akhtar, known for pushing boundaries, with her poems hailed as contemporary masterpieces, award-winning Noor Naga, whose debut collection Washes, Prays was published last year, and Iman Mersal, recipient of 2021 Sheikh Zayed Prize for Literature for her book Fe Athar Enayat Al-Zayat. More poetry performances will enthral audiences on Wednesday 9 February, in the chilled atmosphere of the Hilton’s Firefly Lounge. A relaxed evening in an outdoor setting, the entertainment will feature an eclectic mix of some of the best home-grown spoken word talent, with guest performances from international stars including Dominican-American Elizabeth Acevedo and Queena Bergen. The Festival will comply with all current covid regulations, and visitors will be asked to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination, or a negative PCR taken within the previous 72 hours. 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. 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, Kateb Maktub, and From the Inside Out, as well as conducting year-round student education programmes, book clubs and creative writing courses. The Foundation’s previous initiatives included the 2020 International Literary Festivals Conference, 2016 Dubai Translation Conference and the 2017 Dubai International Publishing Conference. The Foundation is also the governing body of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the UAE’s premier literary festival