Dubai, The Gulf Observer: The 16th edition of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, a premier literary event, opened under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. The inaugural event was graced by the presence of H.H. Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and Member of the Dubai Council.
Supported by Emirates Airline as the title sponsor and Dubai Culture and Arts Authority as the founding partner, the festival commenced with a captivating evening featuring readings by distinguished authors and speakers. The literary luminaries included poet and Booker Prize winner Sir Ben Okri, award-winning poet Claudia Rankine, and Kuwaiti novelist Saud Al Sanousi. The event also showcased performances by Emirati poet Amal Al Sahlawi and performer/composer Ammar Ashkar.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, scheduled until February 6, 2024, will feature over 200 sessions, including Conversations, Workshops, Special Events, LitFest After Hours, Discovery Talks, Family Activities, and Youth Day.
The opening gala included the announcement of winners for the third cycle of the ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship, a globally recognized mentorship program for aspiring writers. The Fellowship has proven successful, with several participants engaging with agents and publishers. Notably, Sara Hamdan from the first cycle secured a significant two-book deal with US publisher Holt-Macmillan.
Ahlam Bolooki, CEO of Emirates Literature Foundation, expressed the festival’s celebration of individual stories and the power of community. She emphasized the Festival’s role in fostering a love for words, igniting joy, and creating connections through lively Conversations and insightful Discovery Talks.
Boutros Boutros, Divisional Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Marketing Brand for Emirates, noted the airline’s commitment to supporting the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, contributing to Dubai’s vibrant arts and culture calendar.
The Festival boasts an impressive lineup of 160 speakers, including prominent Emiratis such as UAE’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs Dr. Sultan Saif AlNeyadi and astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori. The ‘Bil Emirati’ strand focuses on local talent, showcasing the creative prowess of the UAE.
Dr. Saeed Mubarak Bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts and Literature Sector at Dubai Culture, highlighted the festival’s integral role in the community, providing diverse programs and supporting local culture and arts.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature continues to be a beacon of literary excellence, bringing together renowned authors, emerging talents, and literature enthusiasts from around the world.