Festival goers at the InterContinental Hotel Dubai Festival City Heritage Venue Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: This year’s Emirates Airlines International Festival of Literature promises to be a special event as it gears up to celebrate its fifth year.

Director Isobel Abulhoul says the festival is hosting five special events to mark the five years, including a night of poetry in the desert on March 6, a first-time ladies morning session on March 7 and a murder mystery dinner that night.

It’s a great chance to “see the writer behind the book,” Abulhoul says of the festival that has brought the likes of Life of Pi author Yann Martel and romance guru Nicholas Sparks to Dubai.

Although the festival has some events that are repeated every year, such as the George Orwell lecture, Abulhoul insists that each year is different from the last.

“Part of the joy [of the festival] is having different things each year,” she says, adding that this year’s event will host 115 authors from 30 different countries, making for very diverse offerings.

One thing that allows the festival to differentiate itself from year to year is the theme. This year’s festivals centres around “Heroes and Villains,” Abulhoul says, and the festival is bringing this quintessential concept to life through a number of sessions focused on crime and war.

Crime writers Boris Akunin and Maxime Chattam will be discussing their craft in one session and investigating the importance of the crime scene in another, and will also be participating in the murder mystery dinner. Authors Jeffery Deaver and Anthony Horowitz will be talking about how they have recreated James Bond and Sherlock Holmes in their takes on these well-known heroes, and Ian Rankin will be discussing his career writing crime fiction.

Former BBC Foreign Correspondent Kate Adie will share her experiences of heroes and villains in wartime reporting, and historian Antony Beevor will be sharing from his latest book on the Second World War.

Abulhoul also promises plenty of food and chocolate demonstrations as the festival is hosting a number of chefs this year, including famous faces such as Bobby Chinn and Rachel Allen.