File photo of readers at a previous edition of the LitFest Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The latest Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be held from January 31, 2024 to February 6 at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City with 160 events.

The Festival has revealed the full speaker line-up and programme details, including information on tickets, on its website.

Speakers at the 16th edition of the Emirates LitFest include 2023 Booker Prize-winner, Paul Lynch, author of the ‘Prophet Song’; UAE astronauts Hazza Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi, and meditation teacher of Hollywood stars, Gelong Thubten.

Some highlights of the Festival will be an evening of poetry and performance dedicated to the life and work of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, titled ‘Without Hope We Are Lost’.

Book launches

The Voices of Future Generations for the Middle East competition will host a book launch at the festival featuring the fourth round of winning sustainability-themed stories. ELF Publishing will launch several books for children including Aisha’s Pearl by Julia Johnson and Cleo the Curious Camel by Wendy Meddour in Arabic, as well as Aisha’s Cake by Julia Johnson, A Dragon Called Blue by Ebtisam Al-Beiti and The Encyclopaedia of the UAE by Francesca Afleck.

There will also be a free event for the launch of the English translation of Rose’s Diary by Reem Al Kamali, which was shortlisted for the 2022 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.


Three writers of Emirati literature - Mohammed Ahmed Al Murr, Ali Abu Al Reesh and Dr Rafia Ghubash - will host a discussion about their contributions to the UAE’s body of cultural work.

Tickets, passes and membership
Ticket prices start at Dh50 and there will be 15 per cent off on the purchase of three or more sessions in the conversations and family activities category.
There are three passes on offer:
LitFest after hours pass at Dh120, which has a saving of 25 per cent for those who want to attend all four nights,
Youth Day pass, valid for five sessions and a networking lunch for the price of Dh125,
Bil Arabi pass that allows pass-bearers to access twenty-two Arabic language sessions for Dh100.


Those that are looking for a community to share the joys and challenges of writing, or on the lookout for an agent, can join The Mingle. And those who are ready to commit can sign up for the two-day novel-writing bootcamp with Susan Breen, writer and tutor.

Ahlam Bolooki, CEO of Emirates Literature Foundation, Director of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and Managing Director of ELF Publishing, said: “We know that storytelling is a powerful tool for collective expression, and we programme the Emirates LitFest with this in mind, with careful attention to global events and to the interests of local and international audiences.”

She added: “The festival is a place where people of diverse backgrounds unite in their love for the written and spoken word and form deep connections. We invite readers and non-readers alike to visit the Emirates LitFest and embark on a cultural journey unlike any other.”

Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts and Literature Sector at Dubai Culture said: “Over time, the festival has evolved into an effective platform for talent support and idea exchange, envisioning the future of the cultural and literary sectors.”

He added: “Through its rich programme and engaging activities filled with fun and knowledge, this has become part of the cultural dynamism witnessed in Dubai. At Dubai Culture, we are proud to be the founding partner of the Festival that has influenced the local creative scene, shed light on many exceptional cultural experiences, and strengthened the cultural and creative industries, with publishing and literature being integral components of this movement.”

Special events

An opening gala will feature by Saud Al Sanousi, Ben Okri, and Claudia Rankine accompanied by Amal Al Sahlawi, Hala Alyan and Ammar Ashkar.

LitFest After Hours

From Thursday to Sunday during the Festival, the doors will open for performances, games, activities, and food at the LitFest After Hours. Each night will feature local and international voices such eighth-generation Sarangi artist Nabeel Khan, fusion pop duo WYWY, Emirati quartet Four Manos, pastry chef Philip Khoury and Korean group The Choego Club.

Youth Day

Students ages above 16 years of age are invited to be a part of important conversations and ignite their imagination at Youth Day, a day of specially curated events for curious minds, covering themes from artificial intelligence to literature to business and sustainability, all with an anchoring focus on Arabic culture.