Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature takes place in Dubai

The 15th edition of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature took place in Dubai, with 270 of the world’s greatest writers and thinkers in attendance. One of the world’s premier literary events, this year’s festival offered a veritable feast for lovers of the written word with one of the most diverse line-ups in its history. The week-long festival, which ended yesterday, featured international celebrities, favourites from past festivals and new writers.

Since its inception in 2009, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has grown into a global platform for writers to showcase their talent and a forum for the literary world to exchange views on issues ranging from politics to technology. The festival has grown steadily, and in the past two years alone, the event has attracted more than 100,000 fans of the written word, thanks to its extensive digital reach.

Over the past 15 years, nearly 1,800 authors from around the world have participated in the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

The inaugural edition of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in 2009 featured 65 authors from around the world, including award-winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Scottish poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy, Emirati poet Nujum Al-Ghanem and historical fiction writer Philippa Gregory. Since then, the international authors taking part in the prestigious event have included not only critically acclaimed literary giants and pop-fiction heavyweights, but also international celebrities, social activists, business leaders and political figures whose books have captured the imagination of readers around the world.

The festival stage has seen the likes of Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, French novelist and journalist of Lebanese origin Amin Malouf, Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish author Frank McCourt, who made his last appearance at the festival before his death, and popular author Jeffrey Archer, the only author ever to become the number one bestselling author in fiction, short stories and non-fiction with global sales of 275 million copies in 97 countries.

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Other master storytellers performing at the festival include Shashi Tharoor, one of India’s most celebrated public intellectuals, writers and politicians; David Walliams, English comedian, actor, writer and TV presenter; Thomas Erickson, author of non-fiction books that have become bestsellers; and Jeff Kinney, American writer and cartoonist best known for the Diary of a Slacker Child series of books for children. In 2021, the youngest-ever Nobel Laureate, Malala Yousafzai, spoke at the festival, making a passionate plea for greater access to education for girls.

In addition to fostering global literary discourse, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature promotes wider appreciation of Arab literature, poetry and Emirati culture. Each year, the event brings together leading UAE writers, speakers and emerging talent in a series of sessions, panels and workshops. These sessions, held in Arabic and English under the ‘Bil Emirati’ theme and sponsored by the Dubai Authority for Culture and the Arts, cover the latest developments in the publishing industry, culture and folklore, literature and sustainability, among other topics.

This year, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature continued the journey of celebrating compelling storytelling with events held at Intercontinental Festival City and across the Creek at Mohammed Bin Rashid Library. The two venues were linked by the Abra waterway, symbolising the festival’s journey across the bridge between cultures.

Nearly 300 events were organised as part of the festival, with something for everyone, from live music and poetry performances to workshops, film screenings and performances by some of literature’s biggest names. The 2023 festival line-up includes Emmy Award-winning writer Bryan Cox for best TV series Legacy; renowned writers Mohsin Hamid and Alexander McCall Smith; children’s writers David Walliams, Ben Miller and Oliver Jeffers; and Indian journalist Barkha Dutt; world-renowned writer, professor and producer Reza Aslan, an Emmy and Peabody Award nominee; Malaysian journalist and writer Marina Mahathir; award-winning Iraqi writer Inaam Kachachi; renowned Saudi poet Jassim Al Sahih and Emirati writer Maisun Saqer Al Qassimi, winner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Prize 2022.

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