The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is almost upon us for another year, with the event set to begin early next month. Literary heavyweights such as An American Marriage's Tayari Jones, crime writer Jo Nesbo and The Book Thief's Markus Zusak are all scheduled to appear at this year's festival, as well as Oman's Man Booker International Prize winner, Jokha Alharthi.
We've put together a handy guide with everything you need to know about the event, from where to eat and how to get there to how to book tickets.
Where is the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature?
The festival will take place from Tuesday, February 4 to Sunday, February 9 at the InterContinental Hotel in Dubai Festival City.
The hotel's Al Ras rooms – Al Amwaj, Al Khayma, Al Majlis, Al Waha and Al Rimal – are on the lobby-level floor, along with the bookshop and prayer rooms. Al Baraha rooms are on the waterfront-level floor, while the Terra Firma restaurant is in the InterContinental and the Creative Meeting Space is in the adjoining Crowne Plaza hotel.
Check in advance where your favourite talk or workshop is taking place, to make sure you’re at the right location at the right time.
Getting to the festival by car
Getting there is fairly easy if you’re driving. Located on the bank of the Dubai Creek, Dubai Festival City is a landmark of its own. The InterContinental Hotel is directly linked to the mall so you can choose to use the hotel’s valet service or mall parking. There are plenty of ways to access the hotel through the mall: you can either walk through the Festival Tower, the Marks & Spencer store entrance or the mall entrance next to the Hard Rock Cafe. Alternatively, to avoid the hassle of parking, just ask a taxi to drop you off at the InterContinental Hotel in Festival City. Once you’re there, you’ll know exactly where to go as there will be giant flags in the festival’s signature lime green to guide you.
Getting there by metro and bus
The closest Metro station to Festival City is the Emirates stop on the Red Line. From there, you’ll have to take a bus or a taxi to get to the venue, which is about four kilometres away. If you plan on taking a bus, you can hop on the F08 or the 064A. Make sure you plan around the commute, though. Both buses arrive at the Metro station every 30 minutes and it will take you another half an hour to go from the station to Dubai Festival City. A direct taxi ride, however, should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Where can you eat?
One of the advantages of the festival’s venue is that visitors have access to the full range of restaurants and cafes located in the mall. If you plan on having a quick snack or a cup of coffee, there’s everything from Bateel and Paul to Starbucks and Costa Coffee. If you fancy a full meal, you'll find chain options such as Nandos, The Cheesecake Factory and Zaatar w Zeit, while the food court has fast-food outlets ranging from McDonald’s to Bombay Chowpatty. If you want a more gourmet option, stay in the hotel premises and head to The Fish House, a seafood eatery with waterfront views.
Where do you get tickets?
Tickets are available on the festival's website (www.emirateslitfest.com), from their offices in Dubai's Dar Al Adaab, at Magrudy's bookstore in Jumeirah and from the box office at the InterContinental Hotel Events Centre during the festival.
What should you see?
There will be more than 150 international and local authors coming to the festival, so there's something for everyone, whether you’re into political thrillers, crime stories or fantasy novels.
Here are some of our top picks:
Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto will host a talk about her new novel, The Runaways, which poses provocative questions on what attracts young people to extremism. What drives Bhutto's characters to leave behind their ordinary lives and what vulnerability makes them believe they will find redemption in religious violence? Bhutto's talk will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday, February 6 in Al Amwaj room.
Sir Chris Bonington and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, two of the world's most celebrated explorers, will take to the stage to share their extraordinary experiences of adventure at the furthest points of the Earth. Bonington started climbing in 1951 at the age of 16, and still does to this day. His many achievements include the first successful climb of Everest's south-west face and the south face of Annapurna. Fiennes has been described as "the world's greatest living explorer" according to the Guinness Book of Records, and is one of only two men, together with the late Charles Burton, to have travelled around the Earth's circumpolar surface. Their talk will be held at 6pm on Friday, February 7, at Al Ras 2.
Norwegian master of Nordic noir Jo Nesbo will explore his fascinating career and discover the fate of detective Harry Hole in Knife, Nesbo's newest work, which may be his darkest and deadliest adventure yet. Jo Nesbo in Conversation will take place at 6pm on Saturday, February 8 in Al Baraha 2 room.
Fans who followed Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri's journey to the International Space Station last year will be able to hear the cosmic traveller talk about his experience, as well as the future of the UAE space programme, in Al Baraha 1 room on Saturday, February 8 at 1pm.
Among the award-winning names on the programme is Tayari Jones, who won the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction for An American Marriage, a novel that focuses on the relationship between a middle-class African-American couple and that won the praise of Oprah Winfrey. Jones will talk about her seminal work on Friday, February 7 at 4pm on Al Ras 1 stage. Man Booker International Prize winner Jokha Alharthi, meanwhile, will be on Al Baraha 1 stage at the same time, where she'll discuss Celestial Bodies and her writing process.
Where can you buy the authors' books?
Magrudy’s is the official bookseller for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. The store will be selling authors’ titles on site throughout the festival, as well as stocking their books in its Jumeirah shop – so you can start reading up now or wait until the five-day festival.