Emirates Festival of Literature launches complete line-up for 2016 – Event to be held from March 1-12 … set to be a brilliant experience for all

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A photo from the launch of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature line-up and new events for 2016.
A photo from the launch of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature line-up and new events for 2016.

DUBAI, Oct 20: Get ready for two weeks of literary action with the 2016 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. James Bond author Anthony Horowitz, award-winning children’s writer Jacqueline Wilson, prolific Egyptian scholar and IPAF-winner Youssef Ziedan and astronaut superstar Chris Hadfield are confirmed to be attending the Festival next year, along with a host of international authors from around the world.

The complete line-up of the Festival was announced at a star-studded lunch event at the home of the Festival, the Inter Continental Hotel, Dubai Festival City. The Festival will be held from March 1-12, 2016 with a line-up that includes more than 140 names from 30 countries. For the full list of authors, visit www.emirateslitfest.com/authors

The gala event was an apt precursor to the upcoming Festival, featuring internationally-renowned pianist Jason Kouchak performing the 2016 Festival theme tune, The Sands of Time, composed by him. The recital was accompanied by an artistic representation of Dubai by a sand artist.

Speakers included Festival sponsors and partners as well as Dr Rafia Ghubash, Professor of Psychology, Founder of the Women’s Museum and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and motivational speaker Richard Parks.

Speaking at the event, 2015 Festival author Parks said, ‘Last year’s Festival was an amazing experience. It was awesome to connect with so many creative minds and wonderful people. For example, I had the opportunity to spend time with the fabulous writer Adele Parks and her husband Jim; we’re not related but as a result of the Festival we’re now good friends!

‘Meeting the people behind the books was the highlight for me. Writing my book ‘Beyond the Horizon’ has been one of my proudest achievements, and it was awesome to be able to share that with such an engaging crowd. It was reading a book that played a part in helping me through my darkest period, and to think that just 6 years on I am able to share my own award-winning book is mind-blowing! I am so excited for all the new and returning authors attending next year’s Festival, and I’m proud to be a small part of the incredible work the Festival team do to promote literature. The 2016 Festival will be a brilliant experience for all.’

What’s New at the Festival

In an effort to meet the growing demands of the regional audience as well as the increasing portfolio of attending authors, organisers have extended the Festival to two weeks. The additional days confirm the Festival’s international status as a hub of literary delights.

Dina Al Herais, Vice-President Commercial — VIP Customer Relations at Emirates said, ‘Emirates’ mission is to connect people with their personal passions and unique interests and this is done through supporting the growing cultural, arts and creative industries in Dubai and beyond. The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is one of Dubai’s most diverse and accessible festivals, offering a rich programme of events that appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. This year, we are confident that it will continue to offer audiences even more opportunities for education, engagement and entertainment. This is important for Dubai’s cultural landscape, and we look forward to helping the Festival’s future development.’

Students will be particularly excited about Poetry Live!, an event that allows schools to bring together poets and the students who study them. Students have the unique opportunity to hear these poems performed live by their creators as well as the chance to interact with examiners. The event will feature John Agard, Simon Armitage, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, Carol Ann Duffy and Grace Nichols.

Festival audiences also have the opportunity to listen to several of these poets perform their work at the ever-popular recurring Festival event, Desert Stanzas, a stunning night of poetry under the stars.

The 2016 programme introduces an exquisite new fine-dining concept. The Literary Cruise will set sail on the picturesque Dubai Creek, with philosopher AC Grayling extolling the importance of literature to a like-minded audience.

Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature said, ‘The 2016 Festival is a brand new adventure for us and our audience. We will take a look at the past through our Shakespeare strand whilst looking at the present and the future with our science writers. Travel the world with authors from France, Germany, Scotland, China and Guyana and nearer to home, be privileged to view the region through the pens of our Arab World authors. I sincerely believe that this will be our largest, longest and most spectacular Festival yet.’

Incorporating the Festival theme of ‘Time’, the organisers have introduced a new Friday evening event. Guests at the Time Travel Gala Dinner will be captivated by stars from the literary world entertaining them with ‘timely tales’!

Potter heads will be thrilled to get A Muggle’s-Eye Vie win to the world of Harry Potter thanks to award-winning illustrator, Jim Kay. Kay is guaranteed to hold his audience spell-bound as he takes us on an illustrated journey through the newly published Harry Potter books.

Spotlight on the Emirates

Starting from March 1, authors from and residing in the UAE take centre stage in the Spotlight on the Emirates strand held in the Al Shindagha Historical Neighbourhood at the Festival’s sister organisation, the Dubai International Writers’ Centre.

Saeed Al Nabouda, Acting Director General of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said, ‘The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, organised in partnership with the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, works to consolidate a culture of reading in generations across all ages, to spark their creativity and enable them to gain a deeper understanding of global cultures. With a dedicated segment that puts the spotlight on Emirati authors, the event will inspire the next generation of talent, especially in the region, provide them with insights on the new literary trends and encourage them to pursue their passion for the written word. The participation of authors from around the world at the Festival will further facilitate intercultural dialogue that will promote Dubai’s message of universal harmony and peace.’

The intimate cultural setting of the Writers’ Centre and its surrounding area is perfect for the workshops and interactive sessions that have been planned. A three-day film-making master class by award-winning Emirati film-maker Nujoom Al Ghanem will be followed by a Watani workshop for students and writing workshops by Emirati novelist Shaima Al Marzooqi.

To celebrate the rich heritage of oral storytelling in the region, the Festival will also host, for the first time, In the Round — Poetry and Storytelling Evening around a campfire. In addition to stories and poetry, two international choirs performing in Dubai as part of the Choir Fest Middle East initiative will add another element of enjoyment to the evening.

Bringing Back the Bard

In 2016, experience Shakespeare like never before as career villain Steven Berkoff (James Bond, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) brings Shakespeare’s most infamous characters to life in his acclaimed one-man show Shakespeare’s Villains.

Screenings of live performances and adaptations of famous Shakespearean plays in Juba Arabic, Hindi and English are set to captivate the young and old, whilst Kuwaiti playwright, director and theatre founder Sulayman Al Bassam will discuss his efforts to adapt the Bard’s plays and sonnets to Arabic.

Children have not been left out of the fun, as Marcia Williams, known and loved for her children’s books on Shakespeare, will entertain the Festival’s younger audiences and Trinity College will be working with young performers to bring scenes from Shakespeare to life at the Fringe.

Linguist David Crystal and his son, Shakespearean actor and writer Ben Crystal, will debate the relevance of Shakespeare in Language of the Bard Unlocked.

Food, Glorious Food

The Food strand will feature an impressive cast of culinary luminaries. Master Chef Britain judge John Torode will fascinate foodies at the Festival, as will actors and celebrity chefs Lisa Faulkner (Spooks) and Nadia Sawalha (East Enders), both of whom are Celebrity Master Chef winners.

For those with a healthy bent of mind, join London nutritionist Joe Wicks, aka ‘The Body Coach’ and Asma Hilal Lootah, owner of an award-winning Pilates studio, for guidance on achieving a healthy lifestyle balance and looking fabulous with minimal effort.

Parents will be especially excited to hear that Annabel Karmel is back. She will be sharing her top tips for providing quick, easy and nutritious food for the family as well as on how to be a ‘mumpreneur’, for those juggling family and work.

Wonders of Science and Nature

The Festival theme ‘Time’ has played its part in author choices. Discover the wonders of the mind with Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE, a British scientist, writer and broadcaster, specialising in the physiology of the brain. Additionally, professor of Genetic Epidemiology and author of The Diet Myth Tim Spector brings his expertise in Genetics and its new counterpart Epigenetics to the Festival.

Environmentalist Noura Khoori, animal experts Gill Lewis and Lauren St John, oceanic journalist Susan Casey and zoologist Nicola Davies will engage audiences of all ages on the mysteries of the natural world, while bird-watchers will enjoy attending ornithologist Tim Cleeves’ sessions. Astronaut and social media sensation Chris Hadfield will feature alongside those closely associated with the UAE Mars Mission.

Meet the Leading Ladies

Meera Syal, star of The Kumars at No. 42,and author of The House of Hidden Mothers, will make her debut appearance at the Festival. Fellow British television counterpart, presenter Judy Finnigan, will be returning to the Festival with her co-host and husband Richard Madeley.

International playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker will bring to the fore the challenges women face in the world of theatre, whilst Maha Gargash, an eminent Emirati film-maker, shares her latest novel, a family saga set in Dubai.

Women feature strongly in the Festival programme 2016, as usual. The Female Focus panels return with discussions on the changing role of women in the Arab world, women in the literary world and working mothers.

Children of the World

The children’s and young adult programme will be a particular highlight at the 2016 Festival as it boasts the inclusion of Ahlam Bsharat, renowned Jordanian writer of My Nom de Guerre Is Butterfly, bestselling writers Christopher Edge and Darren Shan, Geek Girl author Holly Smale and Sean Fay Wolfe, the 18-year-old author of the unofficial Minecraft Fan Adventure series the Elementia Chronicles.

An irresistible combination of food, storytelling and dressing up come together for the Once Upon a Time Tea Parties, which follow on from the successful children’s Tea Parties held at the 2015 Festival.

The Festival continues its vast programme of children’s events including an expanded Fringe Festival and more events for schools. The eagerly awaited announcement of the school and inter-school competitions winners will add to the Festival excitement over the weekend.

Abulhoul concluded by saying, ‘We are blessed with the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his continued commitment to literature in the UAE. This has allowed our Festival to grow and become an international player on the world literary stage. The Festival relies heavily on the support of its partners, especially Emirates Airline and Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, who have been crucial to its success.

‘As a community-based Festival, we have to gratefully thank everyone, in whatever capacity, who joins us in making the Festival one of the most fun-filled events on the Dubai Calendar.’

All information about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is online. Check for updates at www.emirateslitfest.com. Join us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/emirateslitfest), Twitter (www.twitter.com/emirateslitfest), Instagram (http://instagram.com/EmiratesLitFest) and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/EmiratesLitFest) for competitions and more updates.

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