10 reasons to love the 2015 Dubai Literature Festival

Gangster grannies, a Gruffalo, a Harry Potter night and more

The Emirates Airline 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 the world to promote education, debate and, above all, the love of reading and writing.

Last year, the eagerly anticipated annual event welcomed more than 170 writers, thinkers and speakers from 35 countries. More than 30,000 visitors attended the festival, which hosted more than 200 one-off sessions and unique events. This year’s edition is set to bring more than 120 international authors and celebrities to Dubai from Tuesday March 3 to Saturday 7. Throughout the event, UAE nationals, residents and visitors will have the chance to meet world-famous authors, attend literary debates, listen to readings, participate in workshops and experience the fringe and children’s events.

‘I love the buzz and sheer energy that is created by the thousands of festival-goers, and all through the love of a book,’ says Isobel Abulhoul OBE, CEO of the Emirates Literature Foundation and festival director. ‘A highlight for me has to be the War Horse concert on Wednesday March 4, where Michael Morpurgo will be reading excerpts from his book to live music performances with the life-size Joey and Topthorn horse puppets made by the Handspring Puppet Company, which makes its debut in the UAE. It’s going to be a night to remember.’

This year’s programme will welcome a number of bestselling authors including Mohsin Hamid, who received critical acclaim for his book How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, which was adapted into a star-studded film, the much-loved children’s author and writer of War Horse Michael Morpurgo, and award-winning writer of The Book Thief, Markus Zusak. Celebrities from around the world will be in attendance including traveller Charley Boorman, mathematician and scientist Lewis Dartnell, rugby player turned adventurer Richard Parks and David Suchet, the man now synonymous with Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. The festival will also welcome poets from around the world at a special evening under the stars.

Festival highlights

David Walliams: Gangsta Grannies and Awful Aunties

British comedian and beloved children’s author David Walliams, writer of Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie, will talk about his books and other aspects of his career. Walliams has been translated into 40 languages and his The First Hippo on the Moon is currently the highest-selling picture book in the UK. While tickets for the event are currently sold out, you can try websites such as www.dubizzle.com.
Sold out. February 28, 3pm-4pm. The Cultural and Scientific Association, Al Mamzar.

Harry Potter Book Night
Enjoy a mug of pumpkin juice and grab those chocolate frogs before they run away as Al Shindagha Historical Neighbourhood is transformed into Hogwarts. Remember which password opens which door and join a treasure hunt that takes you through the lanes of ‘Diagon Alley’. Think you know the books and films by heart? Test your knowledge of the Harry Potter world at a special quiz. Organisers encourage guests to dress up as their favourite Harry Potter character.
Free. March 3-7, 6.30pm. Register at www.emirateslitfest.com/harry-potter. Dubai International Writers’ Centre, Al Shindagha Historical Neighbourhood.

Female Focus: Speaking Women

This public speaking workshop by media trainer, Lea Sellers focuses on how to articulate your message fluently and convincingly. Designed to unlock your communication potential it will teach you tips on how to overcome nerves and how to prepare and hone your message. The workshop will also
cover social media and networking.
Dhs350. March 4. Women only. 10.30am-1pm. Al Majlis, InterContinental Dubai Festival City.

The Fall of The Ottomans
Don’t miss the opportunity to hear award-winning Oxford and Middle East historian Dr. Eugene Rogan, author of The Arabs: A History, as well as The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East – his latest book – unfold events from 100 years ago and discuss the powerful repercussions that are still being felt today.
Dhs70. March 4, 6.30pm-7.30pm. Al Ras 3, InterContinental Dubai Festival City.

Desert Stanzas - Poetry and music under the stars
Enjoy gazing at the night sky and settle back and prepare yourself for one of Dubai’s most atmospheric events. Poets from the four corners of the globe will read their poetry in Arabic, English, Spanish and Mandarin. The event will be staged at a desert camp close to Dubai. Transport will depart from the InterContinental Dubai Festival City at 6pm and will return after the event.
Dhs375. 6pm-11pm. March 5. Pick up from InterContinental Dubai Festival City.

Just do it!

Charley Boorman
is best-known for his motorbike exploits recorded in the TV series’ Long Way Round and Long Way Down with actor Ewan McGregor. The modern day adventurer will discuss his travel exploits throughout the evening.
Dhs70. March 5, 8pm-9pm. Al Ras 3, InterContinental Dubai Festival City.

Shortening The Odds – Inside Tips of a Literary Agent
Learn from an insider how to shorten the odds of getting your manuscript accepted by top UK literary agents. Caroline Sheldon will focus on how best to approach agents, including how a writer or illustrator should provide synopses and information about themselves, what it’s best to say and what not to say in an email submission. She will also talk about the areas within her specialist areas: women’s fiction and children’s books. The event will outline the work of a literary agent, such as advising on editorial content, selling manuscripts, negotiating contracts and handling subsidiary rights such as translation and film and television.
Dhs200. March 5. 11am-noon. Al Waha, InterContinental Dubai Festival City.

The Wonderful Silence of Mime
Lara Matossian trained at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London and is a mime artist, actor and stage director. The workshop will demonstrate how to use the universal language of acting to tell your tale and express yourself without words. While the event is sold out, websites such as
www.dubizzle.com may have tickets for sale.
Sold Out. March 5. 4pm. Al Baraha 1, InterContinental Dubai Festival City.

Writing the Detectives
How do crime writers create sleuths that grab both the attention and the affection of their readers? Join bestselling author Peter Robinson, the acclaimed creator of the Inspector Alan Banks mystery series, for this exciting event. The 22nd Inspector Banks novel Abattoir Blues has already achieved bestseller status and TV adaptations are broadcast around the world.
Dhs70. March 6, 3pm-4pm. Al Ras 3, InterContinental Dubai Festival City.

Is there any such thing as a Gruffalo?

Julia Donaldson has written more than 150 books for children of all ages and has gone on to become one of the UK’s best-loved children’s writers. She is best-known for her loveable monster story The Gruffalo, which has been adapted for the stage and screen. With the help of her husband Malcom on guitar, Julia brings her characters to life. While the event is sold out, websites such as www.dubizzle.com may have tickets for sale.
Sold Out. March 7, 10am-11am. Al Baraha 3, InterContinental Dubai Festival City.

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