Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2023 line-up announced, featuring Mohsin Hamid

Jeffrey Archer, David Walliams and Shashi Tharoor will also return to the Dubai event in February

Mohsin Hamid, Cecelia Ahern and David Walliams, who will take part in this year's Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Photo: Emirates Airline Festival of Literature; Getty
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The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be celebrating its 15th anniversary next year, with regional and international award-wining authors, experts and Hollywood celebrities in attendance.

Organisers unveiled the line-up on Monday at the Mohamed bin Rashid Library, the new Dubai landmark that will be one of two main venues for the festival, set to run from February 1 to 6.

Celebrated authors attending include British-Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid, known for his critically acclaimed novels The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Exit West and Irish author Cecelia Ahern, known for her novels PS, I Love You and Where Rainbows End.

Debut novelists attending include Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry, Bolu Babalola, author of Honey and Spice, Jo Browning Wroe, author of A Terrible Kindness and Greg Mosse, author of The Coming Darkness.

Past festival favourites set to return are bestselling authors Jeffrey Archer and Alexander McCall Smith, Indian politician Shashi Tharoor and comedian and children’s author David Walliams.

From Hollywood, Emmy-award winning actor Brian Cox, who plays Logan Roy on HBO’s hit series Succession, will be in attendance. Director and screenwriter David Koepp, who wrote the screenplay for Jurassic Park, will be making a virtual appearance and engaging with audiences on the art of writing movie blockbusters and bestselling novels.

Panel discussions will include a session by renowned religious commentator Reza Aslan in conversation with Omar Saif Ghobash as well as sessions with Bahraini poet Qasim Haddad and Emirati author and poet Maisoon Saqer, winner of this year's Sheikh Zayed Book Award in the Literature category.

The festival will also mark 100 years since the publication of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet and the 140th anniversary of his birthday, with an evening of music, poetry and performance, and a Lebanese feast.

“The 2023 Festival is a milestone edition for us, our 15th anniversary,” Ahlam Bolooki, director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, tells The National.

“The whole team took on the challenge to make it more special than ever before, with more authors, innovative formats and two venues.”

The festival’s theme of ‘Old Friends’ is a reflection of how far the event has come in shaping the literary scene in the UAE, from exposing the public to world-renowned authors and providing a platform for writers from the region to showcase their literary talents.

“The theme of the upcoming Emirates Lit Fest played a major part in the curation of the festival programme,” says Bolooki.

“Over the past 14 years, we have welcomed 1,700 speakers to Dubai and the festival. And we have invited several of those beloved speakers to be a part of the 2023 line-up.”

The festival will be taking place at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City and the recently inaugurated Mohammed bin Rashid Library in Al Jaddaf. The two venues will be connected by an abra service to transport speakers and audiences across the creek for sessions, workshop and other bookish activities.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be taking place from February 1-6. More information on authors and the programme is available at www.emirateslitfest.com

Inside Dubai's Mohammed bin Rashid Library - in pictures

Updated: November 14, 2022, 4:01 PM