2011 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
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.