Dubai: Explorer Ranulph Fiennes, Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain and Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri top a list of big names confirmed for February 4-9’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, it was announced on Tuesday.
Other names confirmed for the six-day event to be held at the InterContinental at Dubai Festival City are children’s author Oliver Jeffers, TV astronomer Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Rosie Project author Graeme Simsion, Killing Eve creator Luke Jennings, and crime writer Linwood Barclay.
This year’s Booker Prize winner Jokha Alharthi from Oman who wrote Celestial Bodies, and Tayari Jones, winner of the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction for An American Marriage will also be in attendance along with Fatima Bhutto, the niece of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who will discuss her latest book The Runways and New Kings of the World: Dispatches from Bollywood, Dizi, and K-Pop New York.
“We have writers to entertain, inspire, challenge and excite people from all walks of life and of all ages,” said festival director Ahlam Bolooki. “Join us at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature because one thing we all have in common is the love of good conversations and great stories.”
Fiennes, 75, was the first man to visit both the north and south pole by surface means, and the first to cross Antarctica by foot. He also climbed Mount Everest at the age of 65 in 2009. Fellow British adventurer Chris Bonington, 85, who was also briefly the oldest man to scale Everest, will also attend as the Literature Festival takes on a distinctly adventurous theme this year.
Within that will be a heavy emphasis on space with the appearances of Al Mansouri, fresh from his mission to the International Space Station last month where he became not only the first Emirati in space but also the first Arab on the ISS and only the third Arab in space.
Nadiya Hussain, who won the Great British Bake Off in 2015, before going on to launch a successful career as a celebrity chef with a line of cook books, all while becoming a champion for the British Muslim community is also expected to draw a huge crowd.
Tickets go on sale to foundation friends on Tuesday and will be on sale to the general public from Thursday.