British explorers Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Chris Bonington, bestselling author and cook Nadiya Hussain and Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri are among the big names who will appear at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature next year in Dubai.
The event, which will take place at the InterContinental, Dubai Festival City, from Tuesday to Sunday, February 4 to 9, will host award-winning novelists and poets, including Tayari Jones, who won the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction for An American Marriage, and Man Booker International Prize winner Jokha Alharthi, author of Celestial Bodies.
Esi Edugyan, who wrote the Booker Prize-shortlisted novel Washington Black, Hoda Barakat, winner of the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and Mohammed Hanif, whose 2008 novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Novel, will also speak at the festival.
An impressive poetry programme is headed by two-time International Poetry Slam Champion Carlos Andres Gomez and Palestinian performer Farah Chamma, while the ever-popular Desert Stanzas returns, featuring poets from the US, Ireland, Portugal, UK and UAE.
Other notable names on the line-up include children's illustrator Oliver Jeffers, Killing Eve author Luke Jennings, and Canadian crime writer Linwood Barclay, the man behind the popular "Zack Walker" and "Promise Falls" series of novels.
The programme has been loosely put together around the theme of "Tomorrow", so there will be sessions and panels on everything from technology and business to conservation, tolerance and exploration.
Broadcaster and environmentalist Kate Humble is sure to be a big draw, as will astronomer Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Mohamed Qasem, who was recently named one of the top science communicators in the Arab world by Nature Middle East. Nujeen Mustafa, a Syrian refugee with cerebral palsy who travelled 5,600 kilometres to Germany in a wheelchair, will discuss her role as an advocate for disabled refugees around the world. Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, the duo behind the internet vegan cookery sensation BOSH!, will be hosting a vegan supper club.
"In a world so full of information, we have a duty of making responsible decisions every day," said Ahlam Bolooki, festival director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. "It is in the small actions we take every day that our impact is made.
"We can’t afford not to be inquisitive and not to ask the big questions in life. We may not find all the answers but with every word we read, we get a little bit closer. Many of the big problems of our world today were predicted in science fiction books long ago. Can we therefore look in today’s literature for clues about tomorrow?
“With the stellar line-up for the 2020 festival, there is no better place to search for the answers, whatever your question may be. We have writers to entertain, inspire, challenge and excite people from all walks of life and of all ages. Join us at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature because one thing we all have in common is the love of good conversations and great stories.”
It is a year of changes for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Traditionally held in March, next year's 12th event will take place in February. Added to this, the format has been changed from the usual 10-day event to a five-day programme.
“The shorter format means all our authors will have a chance to meet and interact, and we can look forward to some spectacular panel discussions," said Bolooki. "Some old favourite festival features will return along with new developments."
Tickets will go on sale to Foundation Friends on Tuesday, November 12, and to the public from Thursday, November 14.
More information is available at emirateslitfest.com