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The written word

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature returns for its 12th edition at InterContinental Dubai Festival City from February 4 to 9 

A love of storytelling runs deeply through the history of the Middle East, dating back to the days when Bedouin tribes gathered around the ghaf tree to share inspiring tales. Honouring this tradition, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is an annual celebration of literature in all its forms. Now in its 12th year, the programme features an incredible line-up of world-renowned public figures. More than a literature festival, the event has become a cultural fixture on Dubai’s packed calendar. With workshops and special events for everyone in the family, there will be much to explore, from science to philosophy and vegan cookery to leadership development. More than 150 of the world’s greatest writers, journalists, explorers and thinkers will take part in this year’s programme, which runs from February 4 to 9 at InterContinental Dubai Festival City.

Set to attract thousands of visitors, the event is a chance to meet influential figures from near and far. Dr. Jane Goodall, the world’s foremost authority on chimpanzees, whose work has led to breakthroughs in understanding animal behaviour, is confirmed to speak at this year’s event. During her talk, the renowned primatologist will cover her life’s work, her education project in the UAE and her journey to becoming an active conservationist, sure to inspire every individual to protect the environment we share. 

China’s number one novelist, Mai Jia, will be among the bevy of international guests expected to sell out at the event. With five bestselling spy and thriller novels, he has sold more than five million copies in 33 languages around the world. Jia’s work has also been adapted for television and film. During the session, the author will discuss his career trajectory and share insights into the research process that precedes every new book launch. One of the world’s greatest crime writers, Jo Nesbø, will also be present at the event. Credited with broadening the scope of modern crime and thriller fiction, the renowned Norwegian author has sold more than 45 million copies internationally in 50 languages.

Join Nesbø as he takes audiences on a journey into the exciting world of crime writing. Giving attendees a glimpse into one of the world’s most secretive nations, investigative photo-journalist and broadcaster, Jeremy Hunter, will bring North Korea’s much-hidden world to life. Hunter entered the country just before the death of Kim Jong-Il and his session will see him shine a light on this controversial corner of the world. Opportunities to interact with some of the world’s greatest modern-day explorers will be present in plenty. Workshops conducted by the likes of Sir Ranulph Fiennes, dubbed as the world’s greatest living explorer according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and Emirati astronauts, Hazzaa AlMansoori, Sultan AlNeyadi and Salem AlMarri, will give guests a chance to learn about their heroic feats.

These international icons will be joined by a stellar list of speakers, including Mitch Albom, Nadiya Hussain, Jokha Alharthi, Jeetendr Sehdev, Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Karen Osman, Brandy Scott and more. Visitors looking to pick up new skills can make the most of workshops offering insights into everything from creative writing to public speaking and entrepreneurship. For the little ones, events to inspire their imaginations feature in abundance. Junior attendees can learn to write or illustrate their own stories or participate in storytelling sessions hosted by accomplished writers. 

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