Festival will host new events and experiences in the form of LitFest After Hours, Discovery Talks, LitFest Families and Youth Day


The UAE’s favourite literary event, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is only a fortnight away. Bringing together some of the world’s greatest writers, creators and thought leaders and welcome attendees to a space for enlightenment and inspiration with new events and experiences in the form of LitFest After Hours, Discovery Talks, LitFest Families and Youth Day.

LitFest After Hours means the fun doesn’t stop once the sun goes down. From Thursday to Sunday, the doors will be open for a feast of performances, games, activities, and food. Books aside, authors and speakers converge for Discovery Talks, series of free-to-attend “fun” lectures offering intriguing perspectives on topics ranging from the Spiderverse to Chinese mythology to Arabic language and artificial intelligence. The Festival has gathered some of the finest children’s storytellers and illustrators from across the UAE and world for an action-packed weekend perfect for tiny bookworms. From dragons and superheroes to teen spies and poetry, there’s something for every little reader at LitFest Families. University and high school students are invited to be a part of important conversations and ignite their imagination at Youth Day, a day of specially curated events for curious minds, covering themes from artificial intelligence to literature to business and sustainability, all with an anchoring focus on Arabic culture.

The exciting line-up includes 2023 Booker Prize-winner, Paul Lynch, author of the Prophet Song; Booker Prize-winning author and President of the Royal Society of Literature, Bernardine Evaristo; beloved UAE astronaut, Hazza AlMansoori and UAE’s Minister of Youth, Sultan AlNeyadi, BookTok sensation Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Romantic Comedy, and Rebecca Yarros, author of Fourth Wing, both making their regional debut; award-winning translator best-known for his Korean to English translation of I Went to See My Father, Cursed Bunny and for his upcoming biography of k-pop sensation BTS, Anton Hur; renowned shoe and accessories designer and author of Oh My Gosh, I Love Your Shoes! Sophia Webster; gender equality and arts advocate Eliza Reid, the First Lady of Iceland; Emirati artist and cultural envoy, Fatma Lootah; and Egyptian graphic novelist and illustrator Deena Mohamed. A highlight of the Festival will be a special event, Without Hope We Are Lost, an evening of poetry and performance dedicated to the life and work of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and the ; a world-first conversation between Booker Prize-winning novelist Bernardine Evaristo and poet, essayist and playwright Claudia Rankine, and a special closing to the big LitFest weekend with the first ever regional TikTok Book Awards and a concert by beloved Emirati musician, Rashed Alnuaimi.

Ahlam Bolooki, CEO of Emirates Literature Foundation, Director of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and Managing Director of ELF Publishing said: “It is my pleasure and honour to elevate the UAE’s cherished literary festival to unprecedented heights. This is a new age for books, reading, and storytelling, and we are poised to lead the charge. Our innovative events and groundbreaking partnerships with trend-setting collaborators reflect our commitment to shaping a literary landscape that resonates with the pulse of our audience.”

The Festival will be hosting a series of book launches including Out of This World by Dr Sultan Al Neyadi. The upcoming publication by ELF Publishing is a photo journal of the recently appointed Minister of Youth’s 6-month visit to space. The collection not only showcases the breathtaking beauty of our universe from the vantage point of the International Space Station but also grants a rare insight into the personal reflections and impressions of the astronaut fondly referred to as the Sultan of Space. Each page offers readers the opportunity to embark on a journey that takes them beyond the physical limitations of this world and invites them to enjoy the wonders of space exploration. The book will be launched at a session titled Out Of This World: Sultan Al Neyadi at 15:00 on Saturday 3 February 2024. The not-to-be-missed event will give viewers a front-seat to hearing about Dr Al Neyadi’s space adventures as well as the opportunity to get their copy of the book signed by him.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the flagship event of the Emirates Literature Foundation, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. The Festival is held with the support of Title Sponsor, Emirates Airline, and Founding Partner, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.

 Badr Abbas, Emirates’ Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations, Africa said: “Much like travel, storytelling in any art form has the power to transcend borders and introduce new and diverse cultures. The new additions to the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s line-up will not only enhance the event but will enrich the city’s position as a flourishing art and culture hub year round. Emirates remains committed to connecting with global communities through art, music and literature that enrich the lives of many.”

The Festival have enhanced their partnership with Dubai Culture & Arts Authority to promote Emirati and UAE-based authors on the global literary stage. In this ‘Bil Emirati strand’ initiative, Dubai Culture will identify exceptional talents, and the Foundation, leveraging its influential standing within the Global Association of Literary Festivals (GAOLF) and its connections with almost 150 festivals worldwide, will secure coveted speaking and performance slots for these authors. With two confirmed opportunities in 2024 and more in the pipeline, this collaboration signifies a significant stride in amplifying the voices of regional literary talents on international platforms.

 Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts and Literature Sector at Dubai Culture, expressed the Authority’s pride in its strategic partnership with the festival, through which it enriches the local cultural scene, contributes to building a knowledge and innovation-based economy, and enhances the strength of the emirate’s cultural and creative industries, saying: “Since its inception in 2009, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority has played a significant role as the festival’s strategic partner in nurturing a creative environment that supports local talents, showcasing their diverse productions to the community by providing them with opportunities to connect with global thinkers and writers, fostering a positive impact on the local cultural scene and empowering the cultural movement in Dubai.”

Bin Kharbash added: “The ‘Bil Emirati’ strand, sponsored by Dubai Culture, seeks to highlight the experiences of Emirati writers and authors, in line with the Authority’s efforts to support and encourage their participation in various literary and cultural events globally, enabling them to express their different perspectives and opinions. We are also renewing our support of exporting Emirati and UAE-based literary talents and authors to international literary festivals. Through our partnership with the Emirates Literature Foundation, we seek to elevate the status of Emiratis in international events, contributing to bridging the knowledge and cultural gaps between the East and the West.

In recognition of its landmark work and commitment to advancing education and sustainability, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established official relations with the Emirates Literature Foundation for a renewable period of six years. This prestigious status, conferred upon the Foundation as a non-governmental not-for-profit organization, underscores the success of its multifaceted initiatives, ranging from literary events to educational programs, that are not just shaping the cultural scene in the region but also contributing to UNESCO’s overarching goals, including the promotion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Foundation will be making the strategic move to a vibrant new office in Al Shindagha Historic Neighbourhood, which is the cultural epicenter of the city. This relocation also marks the anticipated relaunch of the Dubai International Writer’s Center. Commencing April 2024, the Center will host a diverse array of year-round events, from engaging book clubs to dynamic book launches and captivating film screenings, further contributing to Dubai’s thriving art and culture scene.

In response to the burgeoning enthusiasm for storytelling, the Foundation has collaborated with Dubai Civil Defence and will soon unveil the ELF Reading Caravan—an extraordinary mobile library and event space. This distinctive electric vehicle will traverse neighborhoods across Dubai, delivering the joy of reading to doorsteps. Equipped with a curated selection of books and hosting various literary events, the ELF Reading Caravan aims to foster a love for literature among children and adults alike, enhancing community engagement and enriching lives through the magic of storytelling.

The Festival will be held from 31 January to 6 February at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City with 160 events.

For more information on the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, visit their website, and for the latest updates on the upcoming Festival, follow @EmiratesLitFest on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn.