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Emirates Airline Festival of Literature – first sessions sell out!

Posted on 05 February 2014 by Alice

DUBAI, 4 February 2014: A number of sessions at the sixth Emirates Airline Festival of Literature have sold out within days of tickets going on general sale say organisers, who also announced a series of additional workshops to take place in the week-end preceding the Festival.

The first sessions to sell out were the Quick Pitch workshops held by UK literary agent Luigi Bonomi, where aspiring writers can get instant feedback on their unpublished work. The Murder Mystery Dinner, an evening event where guests solve a ‘murder’ with the help of visiting authors, was next to sell out followed by creative writing workshops with locally-based novelist and playwright Hayley Doyle and former UK poet laureate Andrew Motion. To cater to the demand for the hugely popular creative writing workshops, the Festival has launched The Festival Prologue, a series of two-day creative writing workshops in English and Arabic that give writers the chance to boost their skills in the run-up to the Festival. The Prologue will also feature a paper architecture workshop.

The Festival itself will take place in Dubai from 4 to 8 March 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 last year by Royal decree.

Festival Director Isobel Abulhoul remarked on this rush to buy tickets: “It is not surprising that tickets are selling so quickly. We are poised to present yet another extraordinary celebration of the written and spoken word with masterclasses, workshops, talks and debates that are engaging and enriching and will appeal to all kinds of audiences in Dubai and the region. Every session is unique and never repeated, which is why tickets are selling well across the whole of the Festival,” sheconcluded.

The Festival Prologue workshops feature Sherry Ashworth, Anjum Malik and Mohammed Achaari. Calligrapher Dave Wood will also be conducting a paper architecture workshop. The Prologue is scheduled for the weekend before the Festival, on Friday February 28 and Saturday March 1, and will be held at the Universal American School in Al Badia.

“Our aim is to provide regionally-based writers with an opportunity to enhance their skills and techniques at the in-depth workshops. Hour-long courses help writers develop

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their skills but these two-day courses will give them the opportunity to explore and develop writing techniques while also receiving constructive and critical feedback,” said Becky Kilsby, Head of Programming at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

“We have innovative creative writing workshops in English and Arabic that will appeal to aspiring writers and a fantastic script-writing workshop with Anjum Malik. We also have Dave Wood, who will be demonstrating and then teaching the wonderful art of paper-sculpting,” she added.

The Tutors

Sherry Ashworth will be conducting a creative writing workshop specifically designed for anyone with a desire to write fiction. Ashworth’s writing exercises will encompass character development, plot construction, effective dialogue and establishing setting. By the end of the workshop, participants will have produced an original piece of writing and will also receive extensive feedback from Ashworth and the rest of the group.

Ashworth has taught fiction writing for seven years in her role as a Visiting Teaching Fellow of Manchester Metropolitan University. She has written over twenty books, including comic novel “A Matter of Fat”, and more serious novels for young adults such as “Blinded by the Light” and “Paralysed’, both of which have won awards.

Anjum Malik is also a Visiting Teaching Fellow of Manchester Metropolitan University where she teaches script writing and poetry. Malik’s workshop aims to help budding script-writers make complete scripts based on their burgeoning ideas.

At the workshop, participants will study films and learn the key skills of script writing – premise, characters, plot, scenes, setting and dialogue – to develop their ideas into synopses, treatments and finally scenes of their films.

Celebrated writer and poet Mohammed Achaari will be conducting a creative writing course in Arabic for the Festival Prologue. Achaari’s workshop on The Art of the Novel will give participants the opportunity to develop their understanding of the elements of writing fiction, including narrative structure, creating character and the effective use of language. Participants will also be

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given time to practice their writing and share their work with Achaari for feedback. Achaari, who was declared joint winner (with Saudi writer Raja Alem) of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for “The Arch and the Butterfly”, has been a published author and poet since the 1960s and will also be attending the Festival as a participating author.

At the ‘Art of Paper Sculpture’ workshop with world-renowned Australian calligrapher Dave Wood, participants will learn how to sculpt a flat page into new and exciting dimensions. Wood will take participants through the basics of sculpted image before showing them how to use the versatility of paper to create beautiful artforms.

Tickets for the Festival Prologue can be purchased online on the LitFest website –

Tickets for the Festival are available on-line at and also at Festival Bookseller WHSmith’s selected outlets in Dubai Mall (lower-ground floor), Oasis Centre Mall, Marina Mall and Al Wahda Mall, Abu Dhabi. Ticket prices start at AED45 and there are also many events and activities on offer free of charge.

For more details of the Festival please visit Join us on Facebook (, Twitter (, Instagram ( and YouTube ( for competitions and more updates.

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