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Emirates Festival of Literature Announces 2014 Author Line-up

Posted on 22 October 2013 by Alice

The newly-rebranded Emirates Festival of Literature announced its 2014 line-up on 21st October, 2013, at a gala dinner in the Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City (the home of the Festival). It’s always nice to go to an event, meet authors, talk writing and leave with a free book!


DUBAI, 21 OCTOBER 2013: A literary feast is in store for next year’s Emirates Festival of Literature as organisers announced a sparkling author line-up for the 2014 event with an expansive programme covering a diverse range of subjects, styles and genres.

Now in its sixth year, the programme includes world-renowned writers, speakers and politicians who will converge on Dubai for what is recognised as one of the leading international literary festivals in the world.

Following its success in 2013, which saw it named as ‘Best Festival’ in the Middle East Events Awards, the Festival will go forward for 2014 with a new name – now to be called the Emirates Festival of Literature (formerly Emirates Airline Festival of Literature).

The 2013 Authors

More than 100 authors from 24 countries will be part of the event, which takes place from 4-8 March 2014 and 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 title sponsor Emirates and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, arts, and heritage. In March the Festival was honoured to become, by Royal decree, part of the newly established Emirates Literature Foundation.

The great reveal of next year’s attending authors was made at a gala dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel, also the venue for the Festival itself, to an audience of authors, dignitaries, sponsors and partners.

“Emirates supports many events, both in Dubai and across the world. But this festival is particularly fitting for what we do every day – that is connecting people, cultures and minds across our vast six continent network. Each year, the festival produces a flurry of creativity, ideas and debates that buzz around Festival City and reverberate across Dubai. It is a true literary feast – and for anyone who has not been able to make the festival, I would strongly urge you to try this time,” said Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations – Centre.

Author line-up

The 2014 programme includes, among others, best-selling authors Joanne Harris, Jojo Moyes, Marc Levy, Tash Aw and Amish; crime and thriller writers Peter James and Simon Kernick and a strong Arabic contingent which features Mohammed Achaari, Saud Alsanaousi, Maitha Al Khayat, Alia Mamdouh, and Ibrahim Nasrallah.

The world of celebrity will be represented by prima ballerina and judge of the TV show Strictly Come Dancing Darcey Bussell, lyricist Tim Rice, and Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, book club champions and icons of British day-time television, while cricketing commentator Henry Blofeld will entertain with tales from his memoirs.

Politicians and journalists are also to the fore with diplomat Paddy Ashdown, physicist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili, and TV correspondents and journalists Jeremy Bowen, John McCarthy, Amit Chaudhuri and Pankaj Mishra.

The packed programme also includes sessions from poet Pam Ayres and former UK poet laureate Andrew Motion.

Dr Salah Al Qassim, Advisor to the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said: “Building on Dubai Government’s strategy of supporting the growth of arts and culture industry, as one of the founding supporters of the LitFest, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority has seen the initiative grow from strength-to-strength, creating a genuine appreciation for the written word among audiences from across the region. The sixth edition of the LitFest, which will set the stage for the world’s foremost authors, will once again reinforce Dubai’s credentials as a world-class events destination, while supporting the vision of the Emirate to become one of the world’s most sought-after cultural and artistic destinations.”

The 2014 Festival also includes a vibrant programme for children of all ages. Amongst the lively collection of speakers are John Burningham, Helen Oxenbury and Tony Ross who will lead sessions based on their well-loved stories and picture books; Eoin Colfer and Francesca Simon who will appeal to school-aged children with the misdemeanours of Artemis Fowl and the humorous adventures of Horrid Henry; while Charlie Higson (Young Bond, The Enemy) will engage older children and young adults.

As ever, education will be a strong element to the children’s programme, which will include outreach author visits and the two dedicated Education days.

Festival theme

The theme for 2014 is Metamorphosis, which will be adopted throughout a range of sessions and panel discussions. Not only is it one of the great motifs that shape story-telling, it will be used to explore change in all its many forms, creatively, physically and intellectually.

Isobel Abulhoul OBE, Festival Director, said “The theme is very apt for next year, and after winning the wonderful accolade of Best Festival, we continue to evolve. Each year our international reputation grows and this has helped us attract our stunning line-up of authors, resulting in a programme that is exciting, enriching and accessible. I must especially thank HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his gracious patronage of the Festival and his commitment to literature in the UAE. The success of the Festival is also due to our wonderful sponsors, who share our vision and belief in creating a world-class event, and I must particularly extend our gratitude to our partners Emirates and Dubai Culture and Arts Authority for their magnificent support. I would also like to thank our international and locally-based authors who so willingly give their time, our Festival Friends, the bedrock of our public support, and all the Festival audiences whose enthusiasm and appetite for literature make the Festival such a worthwhile and rewarding experience for all involved.”

The Workshop and Masterclass series will run alongside the main sessions and featured lectures such as the prestigious Orwell lecture. Most sessions will be simultaneously translated between Arabic and English, and there will additional language translations in selected sessions, including those in the French strand.

Genres featured include fiction, journalism, history, poetry, science, sport, self-publishing, creative writing, Arabic language, calligraphy, cookery, biography, crime/thriller, travel, psychology, children, dance, economics, fantasy, business, illustration, cartoons, folk tales and life-enrichment.

Special Events

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and Sessions

One of the highlights of this year’s Festival will be Desert Stanzas, introduced last year to great acclaim, a magical occasion celebrating world poetry performed against the atmospheric back-drop of the desert. The Murder Mystery Dinner also returns, a light-hearted evening where diners combine their sleuthing skills with those of the visiting authors and compete to be the first table to solve the mystery.

New this year will be Friday Rhythms – an evening of poetry and music which will include an innovative rock/poetry fusion performance by LiTTLe MaCHiNe.

Also new for 2014 is Literary Idol – a cross between Pop Idol and Dragon’s Den, where a panel of experts critique writers’ unpublished work, which will be read aloud by an actor. The highly popular Quick Pitch, which gives budding novelists the chance to have their synopsis assessed in a one-to-one session with literary agent Luigi Bonomi, is expected to be one of the first sessions to sell out.

The art of calligraphy will be a special feature of this year’s event, with world-renowned calligraphers Hassan Massoudy and Dave Wood displaying and explaining their skills.

Female Focus will be the principal feature of Thursday morning, with sessions which celebrate women’s achievements, and the opportunity to share experiences and debate the changing role of women. Sessions will be in Arabic and English and topics covered will include career, work-life balance, health, fulfilment, marriage, parenting and success.

The Wednesday Watani Debate is also back, and will examine the strength of family ties, with an ancillary debate on the influence of Arabic women on world matters.

Festival-goers will also be able to enjoy the fun and spectacle of The Fringe, while keeping the younger members of the family fully occupied in The Time Out Kids’ Zone.


One of the key tenets of the Festival is a commitment to education, and the popularity of the competitions available for students is testament to the success of this mission.

Entries for the three competitions – the Chevron Readers’ Cup, the Taaleem Poetry Award, and the Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition – are all significantly up on last year. These are held in Arabic and English and the winners are honoured at the Festival at special prize ceremonies.

This year a new competition has been launched – Qasidah Par Coeur, a performance poetry competition for young people aged 14-18.

This will be the second year for the Montegrappa First Fiction competition, which gives unpublished novelists the chance to be heard by having their work evaluated by Luigi Bonomi, one of the UK’s top literary agents, and win a trip to London Book Fair, amongst other prizes. The LitFest is delighted that one of the runners-up to last year’s First Fiction, Rachel Hamilton, has won a book deal with Simon and Schuster as a result of the competition, and we are proud to invite Rachel to the 2014 Festival as a published author.


Tickets will go on sale on 20 January 2014, with Festival Friends having exclusive access one week in advance on 13 January at the Friends discounted price. Tickets will be on sale on-line at and will also be available from the Festival Bookseller WH Smith’s selected outlets.

Festival Friends

The LitFest’s loyalty programme, Festival Friends, is back for 2014 with a range of special benefits including exclusive access rights, a discount on ticket prices, and priority booking. The Festival Friends programme is a wonderful way of supporting the Festival and offers excellent value for money.

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



About the Emirates Festival of Literature:

The Emirates Festival of Literature is the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together with authors from across

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the world to promote education, debate and above all else, love of reading and writing.

The Festival creates a wonderful opportunity for UAE nationals, residents and visitors to meet world famous authors, attend literary debates, listen to readings, participate in workshops and experience the exciting fringe and children’s events. Writing competitions and an inter-school quiz are amongst the educational highlights, and young people also have the chance to hear and meet some of their favourite writers. With simultaneous translation between Arabic and English for select sessions, the Festival is a meeting of minds where ideas are shared and friendships are formed – not least among the authors themselves.

The 2014 Festival which has become an eagerly anticipated annual event will welcome more

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than 120 writers, thinkers and speakers from 25 countries. It is expected that 30,000+ visitors will attend the Festival which will have over 200 one-off sessions and unique events to be experienced

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and enjoyed in a programme that has been designed for wide appeal, with something to suit every taste.

The 2014 Festival will be held March 4-8, 2014 at The Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City 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 LitFest also hosts a regular series of literary events during the winter months (October-April) at its home – Dar Al Adaab (House of Literature) in Al Fahidi Historic Area under the banner The Open Door Series presented by Costa Coffee.

For all information and updates about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature visit the website:


About Emirates:

Emirates is one of the world’s fastest growing airlines. With over 200 aircraft, Emirates flies to 135 destinations. So far in 2013, Emirates has launched flights to Warsaw, Algiers, Tokyo Haneda, Stockholm, Clark International in the Philippines and between Milan and New York. In the coming months, new services will start to Conakry in Guinea, Sialkot in Pakistan, Kabul, Kiev, Taipei and Boston. Emirates operates the world’s largest fleet of A380s. The airline’s A380 superiority was underlined earlier this year with the opening in Dubai of Concourse A, the world’s first purpose-built A380 concourse. Amongst its hundreds of international accolades, the airline picked up the Skytrax ‘World’s Best Airline’ 2013 award.

About Dubai Culture & Arts Authority:

The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) was launched on March 8, 2008 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Dubai Culture plays a critical part in achieving the vision of the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 of establishing the city as vibrant, global Arabian metropolis that shapes culture and arts in the region and the world.

The organisation has announced several initiatives that strengthen the historic and modern cultural fabric of Dubai. These include: The Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons of the Arts Awards: The first of its kind initiative in the Arab world honouring individuals and organisations who have made financial or in kind contributions through sustained support to visual arts, performing arts, literature and film in the region; Sikka Art Fair: An annual art fair aimed at promoting Emirati and local artists in the UAE; and Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre: An annual festival that celebrates and fosters the art of theatre in the UAE.


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