Saeed Al Nabouda, acting director-general of Dubai Culture, Isobel Abulhoul, Richard Parks, and Rachel Hamilton at an event in Dubai yesterday to reveal the list of authors participating in the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: The 2016 edition of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature was officially launched on Tuesday at the Intercontinental Hotel in Festival City, with the complete line-up of participating writers revealed.

The event, which is set to take place between March 1-12, 2016, will feature more than 140 writers from 30 countries and its theme is the concept of Time.

Among the names participating in the eighth edition of the Emirates Airlines Literature of Festival 2016 are James Bond novelist Anthony Horowitz; award-winning children’s writer Jacqueline Wilson’ English poet and playwright Simon Armitage; and British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation, said the Festival has come a long way since its inception in 2009. “What started as a three-day event rapidly blosommed into a two-week-long festival.”

Isobel said that Time was picked as the theme of the festival to encompass the past, present and the future.

Enlarged book-spines of famous works that have dealt with the characteristic of time, including H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time, and A Thousand And One Nights, were used as a backdrop of the stage during today’s event.

“The 2016 Festival is a brand new adventure for us and our audience,” Isobel said, “We will take a look at the past through our Shakespeare strand while looking at the present and the future with our science writers…I sincerely believe that this will be our largest, longest and most spectacular Festival yet.”

Introduced as “something of an ambassador to the festival”, Dubai-based author and former professional rugby player Richard Parks said the festival was a great platform for readers to meet the person behind their favourite books.

“Due to a shoulder injury, I was forced to retire from a sport that was an integral and defining aspect of my life,” Parks, who was part of the 2015 Festival, said. “It was literature that helped me overcome one of the darkest periods of my life.”

By inviting some of the most luminous names in contemporary literature, Parks said the event will help unearth some of the future talents on the local scene. The Welsh author of Beyond The Horizon is now touring schools in the UAE, hoping to inspire students to pick up the habit of reading, and find the magical and therapeutic quality of the written word.

“Last year’s festival was incredible,” he said. “I still pinch myself as I can’t believe I was given the opportunity to share my story and take part in it. I am certain the 2016 instalment will be the best yet. The festival encourages debate and conversation, from which ideas that help us progress propagate,” said Parks.

The festival, which will have several competitions and workshops, will help give exposure to some budding writers living in the UAE.

Dubai-based Rachel Hamilton, who was a runner-up for the 2013 Montegrappa First Fiction competition of the festival, said the festival was a great platform to bring together and expose locally-based talent.

“The festival gives you a chance to put yourself out there, to give your work some exposure,” she said, “I didn’t win the Montegrappa competition, I was a runner up and yet I got the chance to meet publishers, agents and other writers, eventually getting my own work published.”

Rachel Hamilton’s first children’s book, The Case of the Exploding Loo, was published in 2014. The second book in her series, The Case of the Exploding Brains, came out in February 2015.

The 2016 festival also has its own theme song, which was composed by internationally renowned pianist, Jason Kouchak. The song, Sands of Time, was premiered by Kouchak during Tuesday’s event, with music students from Dubai College accompanying him.

For the full list of authors, visit www.emirateslitfest.com/authors