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Ahlam Bolooki with senior officials and children at the launch of the literature festival. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Jane Hawking, ex-wife of the late and renowned physicist Stephen Hawking will be among the best-selling authors headlining the upcoming edition of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, to be held from March 1-9, 2019.

Revealing the line-up of authors and key events during a launch ceremony in Dubai on Monday, festival organisers announced that more than 175 authors from 40 nationalities will take part in the 2019 edition, held under the theme ‘United by Words’.

The highlights include Hawking, whose best-selling memoir about her marriage with genius Stephen Hawking was turned into the film The Theory of Everything; Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, author of Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future; and Jennifer Palmieri, Hillary Clinton’s Director of Communications for the 2016 Presidential campaign.

Ahlam Bolooki Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Ahlam Bolooki, Festival Director said that the 2019 edition will see many of the sessions explore the festival theme and many other diverse topics that “link people together.”

“Around the world we are witnessing classifications, people being divided because of their colour, race, beliefs or nationalities. The world needs unity more than ever before and we really believe in the power of words and literature to be able to bring people together,” she said.

Bolooki shared the key programmes happening for the first time this year, such as the Youth Day, which will be featuring a series of inspirational talks and authors for people between 16 and 35 years of age on March 7, also the Business Day, which will focus on business literature and share tips on work-life balance.

Professor Rafia Obaid Ghubash, Trustee, Emirates Literature Foundation Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Also new in the 2019 edition is the Future World strand featuring talks and panels about the technological advancements in the world and the ethical issues that rise with it.

“The festival will see the return of the its landmark event Desert Stanzas, which celebrates poetry and features poets like the New Zealand poet laureate, Selina Tusitala Marsh and Anis Chochene from Tunisia, who will speaks about discrimination, gender equality.”

As always, there’ll be workshops on a range of subjects, including creative writing and how to get published.

The festival will also highlight the work of home-grown talents with many locally-based authors and Emirati writers featured in the line-up.

Saeed Al Nabouda, Acting Director General, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, spoke about the success of the festival in numbers over the last nine years. He said: “We started with 65 authors in 2009 to 180 authors in 2018. The number of visitors has also increased from 20,000 to 41,000 in 2018, that’s a 109 per cent increase.”

Al Naboudah also mentioned that over 1,390 publishers have participated in the festival and 28,000 students from 250 schools and universities.

“The reasons for the success of the festival goes back to the team behind it, the support from public and public entities and most importantly to the UAE society and its authors, writers and intellectuals who have contributed to making this festival a leading event in the world.”

The annual festival is held in partnership with Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture. The author list was presented during the launch event at the home of the Festival, the InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City.


Tickets go on sale from December 6. Foundation Friends can book in advance from December 4. For the full list of authors, visit emirateslitfest.com/authors