Dr Salah Al Qassim, Adviser Dubai Culture, Isobel Abulhoul and Professor Rafia Obaid Gobash at the launching of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2018 at Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City on Monday. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, taking place from March 1 to 18 next year, revealed its line-up of authors, discounts and key events during a launch ceremony in Dubai on Monday highlighting its 10th anniversary.

To mark the milestone, a list of 25 key sessions was also released at an ‘Early Bird’ discount of 15 per cent. The offer ends on November 24 The full list of the ‘First 25’ sessions and the complete line up of authors is available on www.emirateslitfest.com.

More tickets for the overall festival programme will start being sold January onwards.

Bestselling international authors David Walliams, Alexander McCall Smith, Shashi Tharoor and Hasan Alwan, 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction winner, are some of the renowned names whose works are now on sale.

The Early Bird list also includes Anthony Horowitz with a new Alex Rider novel; a Jacqueline Wilson session talking about her latest book Wave Me Goodbye; explorer Levison Wood, with tales of his adventures along the Silk Route, and veteran journalist Kate Adie. Moreover, acclaimed Indian author Chetan Bhagat will be discussing his latest novel, One Indian Girl, about the impact of societal expectations on women in India.

This year’s edition also features some of the biggest names in the poetry world taking the stage at Dubai Opera. The night of poetry has been made possible owing to a collaboration between the festival, Dubai Opera and The British Council, with the support of the UK GREAT campaign.

The festival will also highlight the work of home-grown talents in the UAE, with many locally-based authors and Emirati writers featured in the line-up. There will be sessions and screenings about hit film adaptations of leading books as well.

A highlight of every edition is the announcement of the winner of the Montegrappa Writing Prize for adults. The prize has already seen eight previous winners and runners-up receive international book deals and become published authors. The competition is now open for first-time novelists to submit their entries.

The annual festival is held in partnership with Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). Monday’s launch event was held at the home of the festival, the InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City.

Speaking at Monday’s event, Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and director of the festival, said: “When we started 10 years ago, none of us could have foreseen the enormous positive impact the Festival has had on the literary scene in the region. Thanks to our patron His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the festival has been able to blaze a trail and become a festival of international standing, attracting authors from across the globe… All this could not have happened without our partners, supporters and sponsors, most notably Emirates Airline, our title sponsor, who have helped make all this possible.”

Shaikh Majid Al Mualla, divisional senior vice president commercial operations at the Centre for Emirates Airline, said: “We are excited to celebrate 10 years of the [festival], an event that has become one of the world’s leading literary gatherings for its rich diversity of authors and engaging programmes that showcase the power of the written word. As an airline, we connect people with their passions and unique interests and through vibrant events such as this festival, we are confident that audiences of every age will continue to have the opportunity to be inspired by the conversations, thoughts and ideas delivered during the event.”

In a statement, Saeed Al Nabouda, acting director-general of Dubai Culture, said: ‘We at Dubai Culture are proud to support the [festival]… We are pleased to be working with Emirates Literature Foundation, the organiser of the Festival, to contribute to building a culture of reading across all segments of the community, especially by offering young people a unique opportunity to meet some of the world’s most famous writers. We also value the role the festival plays in encouraging the community to think creatively, helping them to better understand the cultures of the world, positioning the UAE as an icon for tolerance and openness in the region, and promoting cultural exchange, harmony and peace among different nations.”

Also speaking during Monday’ event was Professor Rafia Obaid Ghobash, a trustee of the festival and founder of the Women’s Museum. The Emirati intellectual said the spread of knowledge, culture and tolerance – which the festival accomplishes – can turn the tide against extremism.