2011 Emi­rates Air­line Fes­ti­val of Lit­er­a­ture

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With more than 30,000 guests, 29 sold out events, and ticket sales up by 75%, the 3rd an­nual Emi­rates Air­line Fes­ti­val of Lit­er­a­ture was a spec­tac­u­lar suc­cess. Read­ers and writers of all ages gath­ered in Dubai to at­tend the fes­ti­val’s five days of talks, sign­ings, sem­i­nars and spe­cial events led by who are par­tic­i­pat­ing in this year’s fes­ti­val, as well as se­nior Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, diplo­mats, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from ma­jor busi­nesses and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, and lead­ing lights from the lo­cal cul­tural scene.

An­other key per­for­mance high­light from this year’s fes­ti­val was the Grand Pa­rade, on March 12th which took place on the Fes­ti­val City Prom­e­nade, where school­child­ren and per­form­ers from arts and cul­tural groups – ac­com­pa­nied by camels, horses, fal­cons and cos­tumed char­ac­ters – cel­e­brated the tal­ent and en­thu­si­asm of the UAE’s di­verse pop­u­la­tion.

The fes­ti­val is a cel­e­bra­tion of lit­er­a­ture in all its forms. As the Mid­dle East’s largest an­nual lit­er­ary fes­ti­val, it of­fers res­i­dents and over­seas vis­i­tors the op­por­tu­nity to meet fa­mous au­thors, at­tend lit­er­ary de­bates, lis­ten to read­ings and par­tic­i­pate in work­shops. This in­spires imag­i­na­tion.

Also this year, for the first time in the short his­tory of the Emi­rates Fes­ti­val of Lit­er­a­ture there was a di­verse of­fer­ing of mer­chan­dise avail­able for pur­chase. The sup­port was pro­vided by the Emi­rates Of­fi­cial Store team with items in­clud­ing caps, air­craft mod­els, PVC pop-art in­spired shop­ping bags and a spe­cial Emi­rates Fes­ti­val of Lit­er­a­ture event tee-shirt. The stand proved to be busy through­out the fes­ti­val, es­pe­cially with the free competition to win a signed Arse­nal FC replica shirt com­plete with cer­tifi­cate of au­then­tic­ity.

“From the spec­tac­u­lar dis­plays of mu­sic, po­etry and aerial per­for­mances at the Open­ing Cer­e­mony, in the pres­ence of Shaikh Ma­jid Bin Mo­ham­mad Bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, Chair­man of Dubai Cul­ture & Arts Au­thor­ity, via two starstud­ded Gala Evenings and more than 100 Main Pro­gramme events, through to the Grand Pa­rade five days later, the 2011 Emi­rates Fes­ti­val of Lit­er­a­ture has en­ter­tained, pro­voked and stim­u­lated tens of thou­sands of fes­ti­val-go­ers,’’ said Fes­ti­val Di­rec­tor, Iso­bel Abul­houl.”We have been blown away by the num­ber of vis­i­tors to this year’s fes­ti­val and by the num­ber of sold-out events. I think it’s safe to say that Emi­rates Lit Fest is now firmly on Dubai’s cul­tural calendar.’’

The 130 events which made up this year’s Emi­rates Lit Fest pro­duced a host of un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ences, in­clud­ing Karen Arm­strong’s plea for com­pas­sion which moved a sell-out au­di­ence to tears, and Greg Morten­son’s as­ton­ish­ing ac­count of his ground-break­ing en­deav­ours in Pak­istan and Afghanistan. Lynne Truss was cheered for her in­sis­tence that punc­tu­a­tion mat­ters and laugh­ter for ad­mit­ting to cow­ardice when it comes to cor­rect­ing those who err. Pierre Gag­naire, Re­flet’s Miche­lin-starred chef, and Mad­hur Jaf­frey had au­di­ences sali­vat­ing at the Fes­ti­val’s in­au­gu­ral cook­ery demon­stra­tions and Louise Doughty tu­tored a room­ful of as­pir­ing writers on the dos and don’ts of writ­ing a novel. Tony Parsons quoted Pi­casso – “there are facts and there is truth” - and said the nov­el­ist’s job is to write the truth.

At­ten­dees also en­joyed many Fringe ac­tiv­i­ties held as part of the Fes­ti­val. There were also two days of Ed­u­ca­tion Day se­ries for stu­dents and as­pir­ing writers, in­clud­ing the Mon­te­grappa Stu­dents’ Writ­ing Competition and the Boe­ing Read­ers’ Cup.

The Emi­rates Air­line Fes­ti­val of Lit­er­a­ture is held this year un­der the pa­tron­age of His High­ness Sheikh Mo­hammed Bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, the Vice-Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who made a spe­cial visit to the fes­ti­val on Day 3. The fes­ti­val is also held in part­ner­ship with Emi­rates Air­line and the Dubai Cul­ture & Arts Au­thor­ity (Dubai Cul­ture) lu­mi­nar­ies from across the world of great books.

This year’s fes­ti­val kicked off on 8th March with an im­pres­sive dis­play of mu­sic, po­etry, dance and aerial per­for­mances put on by more than 500 per­form­ers, who took to the stage be­fore a VIP au­di­ence who gath­ered at the breath­tak­ing 850-seat theatre at the Cul­tural & Sci­en­tific As­so­ci­a­tion at Al Mamzar in Dubai.

This cast of per­form­ers in­cluded the Emi­rates Choir, made up of 80 Emi­rates Group em­ploy­ees , the Emi­rati Youth Choir, the Massed Pri­mary School Choirs of Dubai, as well as 2011 fes­ti­val writers Michael Mor­purgo, Roger McGough, and Dha’en Sha­heen. In the au­di­ence were many of the 130 au­thors year’s vis­it­ing au­thors in­cluded Mar­garet At­wood, Eoin Colfer, Wole Soyinka, Ma­rina Lewycka, Michael Palin, and many oth­ers who spoke on top­ics rang­ing from how sto­ries are told to what

His High­ness Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Rashid Al-Mak­toum, Vice-Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, brows­ing through the Fomma Trust book on “Cul­ture In­dus­try in the UAE” by Dr. Salem Hu­maid, af­ter in­au­gu­rat­ing the Emi­rates Air­line Fes­ti­val of Lit­er­a­ture in Dubai.

Michael Palin fea­tured along­side Emi­rates’ cabin crew at the Emi­rates Fes­ti­val of Lit­er­a­ture. This year’s vis­it­ing au­thors in­cluded Mar­garet At­wood, Eoin Colfer, Wole Soyinka, Ma­rina Lewycka, Michael Palin, and many oth­ers who spoke on top­ics rang­ing from how sto­ries are told to what in­spires imag­i­na­tion.

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