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Dubai: From space exploration to mummy troubles, the 11th edition of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is all set to begin next month.

The nine-day event taking place from March 1 to March 9 will feature international and local authors involved in all literary genres. They will be holding panels, workshops and showcasing their work.

Authors who were invited to attend the festival, write about various genres like children’s books, science fiction, and non-fiction, culture and health.

Ahlam Bolooki, festival director, Saeed Al Naboodah, acting director-general of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Shaikh Majid Al Mualla, Divisional Senior Vice President Commercial Operations, Centre at Emirates Airline and Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director General for Science and Technology Sector at Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre attended the press conference held on Monday, February 18.

Charlie’s golden tickets

Taking a leaf from Roald Dahl’s popular book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this year the festival is offering a unique experience to five attendees.

Five lucky people will receive golden tickets, these are passes that will give unlimited access to everything that the festival has to offer, including a couple of “money-can’t-buy opportunities” to mingle with authors at selected exclusive events, like a dinner at the end of the festival.

“The ticket holders and one companion will also get access to all Dubai museums throughout the month of reading [March],” said Bolooki.

Participants can obtain the tickets through a number of ways. One will be given to the winner of a treasure hunt they are conducting, three tickets are available for purchase on the festival’s official website for Dh20,000 each, and one will be available to win through a radio show by Dubai Eye.

To space and beyond

After the first satellite built by an all Emiratis team was launched successfully from Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan in last year October, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is featuring the a number of space related books and activities this year.

A panel on day one features the first two UAE astronauts that have chosen to go to the International Space Station, and they will be speaking about the UAE Space Program, its development and future plans.

Al Marri said that at the festival UAE’s space exploration aspirations will be discussed which is the “story of zero to where we are now”.

“Our major focus is on what’s in the future and what’s happening next,” he added.

The event will also be attended by Dana Alblooshi, the youngest Emirati to train with Nasa. She is also involved in programmes in the fields of aeronautics and space administration in the United States.

Considered a child prodigy herself, Alblooshi has written a book called 13 Amazing Women Of Arabia that she will be promoting at the festival this year.

Dana Alblooshi Image Credit: Falah Gulzar/Gulf News

“These are women who have inspired me and who I look up to. These women have impacted my life and helped me get to where I am. Their stories are truly beautiful,” she said.

Speaking about why she chose these specific women to write about, Alblooshi said: “I would love to write about one million other Arabian women, but these women in particular have inspired me and impacted my life. I always saw a little bit of myself in them.”

Authors excited

Kim Annette Page is a communication expert and author who is excited to be invited to hold workshops at the festival. “From the moment you’re invited, you’re so honoured, so excited. It’s a great way to spread the news,” she said.

Sara Sadik is a children’s author who focuses on family related content. She has been attending and speaking at the festival for years. Last year, she published her book — Finding the Magic in Mommyhood — and aims to promote it at the event.

“I am expecting to network with a few children’s authors. It’s also wonderful opportunity to pop into different panels speaking about different subject matters,” she said.

On the same note, the festival’s director, Bolooki advised people to venture into attending various types of panels and exploring different literary genres.

“When you come to the festival, don’t stick to authors you know, experiment,” she said.