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Watch: Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2022 kicks off Thursday in Dubai with ‘Emirati Cultural Day’

Dubai: Emirati authors, poets, artists, businesspeople and officials will discuss everything from Emirati women in ‘unconventional paths’ to ‘stigma in art’ on the first day of the 2022 Dubai Festival Emirates Airline literature, which begins tomorrow at Al Habtoor City in Dubai.

The first day of the annual festival, also known as LitFest, this year is dedicated to Emirati talent and their works. Presented in collaboration with the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the festival’s ‘Emirati Cultural Day’ will feature Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs in Dubai; business leader Khalaf Al Habtoor; artist and author Hala Kazim; and Freej creator Mohammed Saeed Harib, among other prominent Emirati figures.

This year, the festival is held under the theme “Here Comes the Sun”. Besides the new venue in Al Habtoor City, there will also be special events at Expo 2020 Dubai and the Caravanserai for LitFest.

On Thursday, LitFest viewers will also be able to hear from Omar Ghobash, deputy minister for culture and public diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations and author of “Letters to a Young Muslim”. Her latest book is addressed to her late father, the Emirati diplomat Saif Ghobash.

Rates and protocols

Some sessions of the 11-day event are free while others cost around Dh65 for adult sessions and Dh40 for child sessions. There is also a Dh100 digital pass to watch live sessions. For tickets and a full list of authors, the festival website has the details.
Organizers said the event will comply with all applicable COVID-19 regulations and visitors will be asked to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination, or a negative PCR taken within the previous 72 hours.

programming 2022

Attendees at this year’s event include Gary Vee, Nadiya Hussain, David Walliams, Iman Mersal, Indra Nooyi, Azza Fahmy Bridgerton author Julia Quinn, House of Gucci author Sara Gay Forden, Chernobyl 1986 author Serhii Plokhy and Ken Arto, host of Demon Slaye.

The festival will also host acclaimed and popular crime writer Mark Billingham; actor Ben Miller with his latest children’s book; youtuber Ahmed El Ghandour alias Al Da7ee7; and virtually joining the festival is master thriller writer David Baldacci.

Facing the challenges

Other sessions focused on self-care, mental health and self-improvement will feature psychotherapist Sasha Bates blending the personal and the professional as she comes to terms with the loss of her husband in The Languages ​​of Loss. : A Psychotherapist’s Journey Through Grievance; and Jessica Moxham, a disability rights and parenting champion, who will talk about what having a disabled child taught her in The Cracks That Let the Light In. Also featured are Mathilde Loujayne and Ruzina Ahad, pioneers of a new generation of self-help books for today’s Muslim women.

Miscellaneous offers

The program includes experts from the worlds of science, history and art; gastronomic events, including dinner with Italian chef Alessandro Borghese and a Dickensian feast at Miss Havisham’s wedding; performances by some of the world’s most accomplished spoken word artists; and new authors who captured the literary zeitgeist.

As always there is an interactive children’s program and workshops for all ages covering poetry and slam poetry, creative writing and storytelling, drawing and illustration.

Graphic novelists

Anime fans can find out where graphic novelists and animators get their ideas from, with sessions featuring Fumio Obata, Ken Arto and Fadel Saeed AlMheiri. Jessica Cerasi, curator of the 2019 Venice Biennale who will ask the question “Who’s afraid of contemporary art?” based on his course at Tate Modern. Lucinda Dickens Hawskley will discuss What Makes Great Art with Myrna Ayad, former director of Art Dubai. Renowned high-end jewelry designer Azza Fahmy will recount her journey from the bustling boutiques of Cairo to becoming one of the most admired jewelry designers in the Arab world.

Focus on the story

Marina Wheeler, an Anglo-Indian from what is now Pakistan, explores the story of her mother’s early years, shaped by the score, in The Lost Homestead. Rapahel Cormack will offer a taste of the cosmopolitan counterculture in Egypt during the interwar period of the last century. The history component also includes paleoanthropologist Ella Al-Shamahi, who will give a very entertaining talk on the history of the handshake, and Salma Serry and Daniel L Newman who will dive back in time with unique insights from the history of the handshakes. cookbooks, during a session taking place at the Jameel Arts Centre.

Ashraf Al Ashmawi will take audiences back to 20th century Egypt in his latest novel, and he will discuss the art of writing historical fiction with Lulwah Al Mansouri and Sultan AlMousa.

Instapoet Nikita Gill will present her widely acclaimed solo show “Maidens, Myths and Monsters,” revisiting legendary Greek heroines through storytelling and poetry. Dubai Abulhoul and Hadil Ghoniem will discuss their favorite childhood tales and how they influence their writing today.

Hana Al Hashimi and Mona Ali Khalil will examine “The future of diplomacy after COVID-19” and Al Arabiya news anchor Fatima Daoui will share her thoughts on how the next generation of women in the media can fight for success. There’s also advice on “How to contribute to Wikipedia” for budding Wiki editors and workshops galore for all ages on a host of topics from poetry, writing and editing to sustainability.


Litfest also offers arts and crafts workshops in Arabic and English for children of all ages, in addition to a host of entertaining sessions throughout the weekend. For toddlers, Polly Dunbar, author of the award-winning picture book Penguin, explores two of life’s big questions – what it means to be safe and how to be calm – in Rawr! A lion is a lion. Julia Johnson and Maitha Al Khayat will explore the tradition of pearl fishing through storytelling and illustration ahead of the launch of their new collaboration, Aisha’s Pear.

For tweens, award-winning author of the Shapeshifter series Ali Sparkes will delight with the latest book of his latest fantasy adventure – Night Forever – which reaches its breathtaking conclusion atop Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Award-winning Erin Entrada Kelly is a Filipino-American author of books including Hello Universe, The Land of Forgotten Girls and her latest, We Dream of Space, a story of three siblings discovering that life rarely happens. smooth. YA author SK Ali brings the endearing character of Janna Yusuf to life in her novel, Misfit in Love, and will share her inspiration for the stories and themes she explores at the festival.

Special events

The first weekend of the festival ends with two unique events on February 7. The public can enjoy a three-course meal and celebrate Charles Dickens’ birthday with an invitation to Miss Havisham’s wedding, with special guest Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, the great-great-great-granddaughter of the man himself.

There is also an evening at Expo 2020 Dubai with Carlos Andrés Gómez and Dr Afra Atiq from Dubai, accompanied musically by Nashville-based singer-songwriter Brent Shuttleworth.

The festival is organized with founding partners Emirates Airline and Dubai Culture, 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.

Litfest at a glance

Where: Habtoor City Hotels (main site); Expo 2020 Dubai; Caravanserai

Tickets: Adult sessions Dh65; children’s sessions Dh40; Dh100 digital pass

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