Author Maha Gargash, Isobel Abulhoul, author Marguerite van Geldermalsen, Sir Maurice Flanagan, executive vice-chairman of Emirates airline and Group, author Ali Mustafa, Saeed Al Naboudah, acting director-general of Dubai Culture, author Matt Rees, author Dha’en Shaheen and Tom Meyer, area general manager of InterContinental Hotels Group, Dubai Festival City. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: More than 100 authors will descend on Dubai on Tuesday, marking the start of the third Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the festival this year has added many new strands, including two education days, newly-introduced Gala Nights, Calligraphy and journalism workshops.

Speaking on Monday at the last press conference before the festival starts, Isobel Abulhoul, Festival Director, said: "I believe this year we have got something for everyone - it doesn't matter if you don't enjoy reading, we can change you. You can come in to the festival a non-reader and leave with reading as your top hobby."

Sold out

According to the organisers, ticket sales for this year's festival have already surpassed the total number of tickets sold for the 2010 Festival.

A number of events have also sold out before the start of the festival; including the first Gala Evening Tueday night, two main programme events, six masterclasses and two workshops.

Festival organisers also revealed that the final 2011 line-up will be its biggest and most diverse yet, consisting of 130 authors, representing 27 nationalities and 19 genres.

The 130 programmed events will include two gala evenings, 108 main programme events, and 20 workshops and masterclasses. The 2011 festival will deliver perennial festival favourites alongside more than 40 completely new events including Gala Evenings, Literary Lunches and a Literary Quiz.

Workshops for children

Nineteen of the main programme events and four of the workshops will be targeted at children.

"It is a matter of much pride to see the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature develop into the formidable cultural force it is today," Sir Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice Chairman, Emirates Airline and Group, said.

"The overwhelming success of the Festival is not only a reflection of the rich diversity of Dubai, but also the power of the written word and its ability to cut across borders. Emirates is committed to the development of Dubai as a centre for cultural events, and we share a common vision with the festival, to foster a cultural dialogue and an exchange of ideas."

Gulf News is sponsoring five sessions at the Lit Fest. BBC veteran correspondent Kate Adie; The Hub's Nick Gowing; chef extraordinaire Madhur Jaffery; and Ibn Battuta expert Tim Mackintosh-Smith, are the guests of the five sponsored sessions.

Maha Gargash, Emirati author, who spoke at a press conference on Monday said of the new workshops, that "it helps for someone who's trying to be a writer… there are many hurdles, like the agent, and the publishing house, so for someone who's writing I think it's important for them to understand it will be a long journey."

Promoting intercultural dialogue

Saeed Al Naboudah, Acting Director General of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said: "The overwhelming response to the festival underscores the strong literary culture of Dubai. By setting a platform for the public to interact with globally renowned authors, the Festival complements the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority's goal of promoting intercultural dialogue and fostering local talent. Our increased support this year has added to the diversity of the programme on offer, which has led to an unprecedented interest from the public, making this year's edition of the festival the best one yet."

Tickets for the remaining Gala Evening on March 9 at the Cultural and Scientific Association, will be priced at Dh125 for balcony seats and Dh195 for all other seats.

Tickets for Main Programme events on March 10, 11 and 12 at the InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, will be held at the same levels as the 2010 festival.

Adult sessions will be priced at Dh65 and children's events at Dh39. Focus On sessions will be priced at Dh30, and masterclasses at Dh200. Adult workshops will range in price from Dh120 to Dh300 and children's workshops from Dh50 to Dh150.

All tickets can be purchased from selected Magrudy's outlets in the UAE or from the Festival's official website - www.emirateslitfest.com.