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Book lovers will have access to a wide variety of books for sale at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature promises a lot for families. This year’s event will feature a children’s programme overflowing with mischief and hilarious capers starring captivating characters, old and new. With a strong line-up of children’s authors making up more than 20 per cent of the programme, the festival is offering something for everyone from its new home at Habtoor City hotels from February 3-13.

David Walliams

Families can celebrate the tenth anniversary of the publication of Gangsta Granny with David Walliams himself, one of the most popular children’s authors in the world today, or discover the dastardly happenings at The Cruel School with the mysterious science teacher Doctor Doktur from Mega Monster.

Helping young people deal with the overwhelming feelings is the mission of TV chef, author and television presenter Nadiya Hussain, whose stories explore feelings and emotions, helping children confront their fears and acknowledge their differences. There is also the man behind the internet sensation #DrawWithRob, Rob Biddulph, who will be in Dubai to introduce Peanut Jones and her incredible adventures as she draws herself in and out of danger.

Also in Dubai will be the multi-talented Ben Miller with his latest magical mishap adventure story, starring a boy who finds out what it’s like to become a dog, or hear what happens to Greta Woebegone and the ghosts who share her house from best-selling children’s author Sam Copeland.

Nadiya Hussain

Heart-stopping conclusion

For pre-teens there is the award-winning author of the Shapeshifter series ‘Ali Sparkes’, with the final book in her most recent fantasy adventure ‘Night Forever’, which reaches its heart-stopping conclusion at the top of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Nayanika Mahtani holds up a mirror to the partition of the Indian sub-continent, looking at how borders shape us and how the shadows of the past can affect us, in her novel for ages 12-plus, ‘Across the Line’. Erin Entrada Kelly, a Filipino-American award-winning writer of books, including ‘Hello Universe’ and ‘The Land of Forgotten Girls’, will be in Dubai with her latest book, ‘We Dream of Space’, a story of three siblings discovering that life rarely goes smoothly. Julia Johnson and Maitha Al Khayat explore the tradition of pearl-diving through storytelling and illustration, while Karine Jaber and Sara Sadik consider the unexpected gifts of the pandemic in ‘The Extraordinary Pause’. Well-known UAE TV personality Layne Redman will be making his first appearance at the Festival to celebrate his new series of books featuring Luam, whose first adventure ‘Luam’s Balm’, is set in Jamaica.

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Emirates LitFest revealed an exciting line-up authors and titles for the 2022 edition of the event, at Expo 2020 Dubai on Wednesday. Image Credit: Supplied

Ben Bailey Smith, aka Doc Brown, is a British actor, rapper, comedian. In his first solo fiction title, ‘Something I said!’ his hilarious hero Carmichael discovers what really matters in life and whether being infamous is a good thing.

Getting children on their feet

Ben is also the author of picture books for younger children, and with illustrator Sav Akyuz, will get children on their feet with the purple bear showing off his dance moves in ‘I Am Bear and Bear Moves’. Polly Dunbar, author of the award-winning picture book ‘Penguin’, looks at two of life’s big questions — what being safe means and how to be calm — in ‘Rawr! A Lion is a Lion’. Younger ones will also enjoy Ebitsam Al-Beiti with her tale of ‘Citrus the Smoothie Sloth’, Beverley Jatwani with her picture book, ‘Tala the Bengal Tiger’, and the madcap antics of ‘Magic Phil’, everybody’s favourite storytelling magician. There is also a free session celebrating the launch of the second anthology of winning stories entered into the 2021 Voices of Future Generations competition.

The Arabic children’s programmes features Dubai Abulhoul with her retelling of Emirati folk tales for children, and Hadil Ghoniem, author of ‘Layali Shahrzizi’ (The Nights of Shahrzizi, which won the 2020 Etisalat Book of the Year award for Arabic Children’s Literature. There’s also Gulnar Hajou, Sanaa Chabbani, Safia Al Shehi, Sahar Naja Mahfouz, Abdulrahman Al Dasuki, and Nour Arab.

Exploring grief, love, and bonds that connect

Award-winning Dominican-American author Elizabeth Acevedo will be in Dubai to delight fans of YA fiction (14+), exploring the many themes from her novel in verse, ‘Clap when You Land’, exploring grief, love, and the bonds that connect us. S.K. Ali will be discussing her bestselling YA romance series ‘Saints and Misfits’ and ‘Love from A to Z’, featuring Muslim teen characters from diverse backgrounds in stories that are fun, relatable and also take on important issues. She will be sharing her inspiration for the stories and the themes she explores.

Age is no barrier to being an author at this year’s LitFest. At the ‘Children’s Takeover’, some of Dubai’s youngest and brightest authors will read excerpts from their books, share their inspiration and challenges, and discuss what comes next.

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For budding authors yet to write their own book, as always there are lots of interactive workshops to get children of all ages involved in creative writing and storytelling, drawing and illustration, poetry and poetry slam.

The Festival is held with Founding Partners Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts and culture.

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

To buy tickets and for the full list of authors, visit

The Festival will comply with all current COVID-19 regulations and visitors will be asked to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination, or a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.