Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (29 January-13 February), one of the cultural highlights of the year, begins tomorrow with an exceptional line-up featuring Nobel prize winner Malala, Elif Shafak, Amin Maalouf and Lemn Sissay.
Programme highlights also include internationally acclaimed authors and Booker nominees Avni Doshi (Burnt Sugar) and Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister the Serial Killer) and a day dedicated to Emirati talent.
There will be live appearances and virtual sessions across three weekends and three venues with an array of topics appealing to all: Jameel Arts Centre (29-30 January); the InterContinental Dubai Festival City (4-6 February), the Festival’s home that will host the event’s big middle weekend; and Alserkal Avenue (12-13 February).
HE Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, has expressed her delight that the festival’s grandeur is maintained in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is undoubtedly one of the most significant cultural events in the country and the wider region. I am very happy to know that the line-up of speakers, both live and virtual, is no less impressive than in the previous editions. I am sure the event will provide all cultural aficionados in the country and beyond a wonderful opportunity to listen to and interact with a host of creative geniuses from various spheres. I hope the event will also be an occasion for reflecting on the kind of literature produced in different part of the world in the backdrop of the pandemic.”
Ahlam Bolooki, festival director said:
“We are beyond excited to have been able to stage the event this year with live appearances, in addition to welcoming a number of international authors who, due to current circumstances, are joining us virtually. What hasn’t changed is the breadth of subjects covered, the entertaining talks, incisive discussions and memorable performances. This year, of all years, we would like to extend our gratitude to all our sponsors and partners, particularly Emirates and Dubai Culture, who have been steadfast in their support for us over the difficult times we’ve all faced in the past year, and without whom the Festival wouldn’t happen. We also want to thank our community, and all the people who come to our events. Thank you to all from the bottom of our hearts.”
The Festival is held with the support of Founding Partners Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture.
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said:
“In spite of the challenges around us, we are proud to connect authors and storytellers with their audiences physically in Dubai, and virtually around the world at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. The lens of literature shapes the way we understand and experience the world, especially as we live through and make sense of this historical moment. Events like the festival add to the overall richness of our collective conversation about books, and empower us to think differently about our future. We wish the festival every success, and will continue to support its efforts in the recovery of Dubai’s cultural and creative industries.”
The Festival begins this weekend at Jameel Arts Centre (29-30 January) with a selection of specially curated literary themed events, many with an art and design influence. The programme includes a host of live appearances, workshops, exhibitions and children’s activities, with sessions featuring 2020 Booker-nominated novelist Avni Doshi, book art and design workshops and exhibitions, calligraphy, poetry, creative writing and more. Many sessions are free to attend, including a packed programme of activities for children.
The Festival will continue with the big middle weekend at the Festival’s home, the InterContinental Dubai Festival City from 4-6 February. Featured authors include Nobel prize winner Malala, Elif Shafak, Amin Maalouf and Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister the Serial Killer). There will also be a special day (Thursday 4 February) dedicated to Emirati talent, sponsored by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.
Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) said:
“A new celebration of culture and literature is launched in Dubai. This festival embodies all aspects of creativity unleashing the imagination of the community, providing them with the pleasure of exploration and new ideas. With each session of the festival, a group of international and Arab writers and creative thinkers will present programmes aimed at educating audiences of all ages and various cultures that the UAE embraces. This year’s festival has many topics that directly impact our contemporary life. We hope this edition of the festival will enhance the public's love for reading and instill in them hope for a brighter future. "
“We, at Dubai Culture, are keen to supporting and harnessing all our efforts to assure success of this festival. We seek to make it a unique platform for upgrading the art sector in Dubai and the UAE. And through our sponsorship of ‘Illuminations on Emirati Talents’ pillar at the festival, we aim to support and encourage local talent, empowering them and providing them opportunities to reach the global horizons and make a mark in the creative field.”
Alserkal Avenue (12-13 February) will be the venue for the final weekend that will feature acclaimed Egyptian writer Ahmed Mourad and a closing event with the vibrant performance poets Lemn Sissay, and Afra Atiq.
Many sessions will be inspired by the 2021 Festival theme, ‘Change the Story’, capturing the spirit of the times through family fun, enlightening talks, fresh ideas and dynamic performances centred on books, art, science, current affairs, film and food.
Due to social distancing, there will be fewer tickets available, so early booking is recommended. Tickets will be required for each event, including free sessions, to ensure visitor number restrictions are adhered to. Many sessions will also be livestreamed for those who are unable to attend or miss out on tickets.
Ticket prices start at AED60 for adult sessions, AED40 for children’s sessions, and AE100 for a digital pass to watch live-streamed sessions from home. A minimum of 10 top sessions will be streamed live from the big Festival weekend at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City.
The Festival will be fully compliant with all COVID-19 prevention regulations and guidelines from the Dubai Health Authorities, including social distancing measures across all three venues and mandatory masks. See full details on the Emirates LitFest website.