Fans of crime fiction will be delighted to discover that best-selling Scottish author Ian Rankin will return to the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in March. Rankin, who is best known for his Inspector Rebus novels, has sold more than 30 million books worldwide. His work has been translated into nearly 40 languages.
His latest Rebus novel, In a House of Lies, was published in October to critical acclaim and – as ever – commercial success. One newspaper reviewer wrote: "No one in Britain writes better crime novels today." It is hard to disagree.
Rankin, who attended the festival in 2016, is one of the highlights of an impressive programme, which features 163 authors, publishers, academics and illustrators, and which takes place from March 1 to 9 in Dubai Festival City.
Other well-known names scheduled to attend include Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World; Lebanese writer Jabbour Douaihy; Keith Stuart, author of A Boy Made of Blocks, a moving account of his relationship with his autistic son; Saud Alsanousi, winner of the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction; and Australian fashion designer Alannah Hill.
Jane Hawking, former wife of physicist Stephen Hawking, and author of Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, has also been confirmed after she had to cancel her scheduled appearance at this year's festival at short notice after Stephen died on March 14. Her memoir was adapted for the Academy Award-nominated film The Theory of Everything.
There is an extensive children's programme, too, featuring Tony De Saulles, illustrator of the Horrible Science series; Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series; Chitra Soundar, author of the charming stories A Dollop of Ghee and You're Safe With Me; and Emirati children's authors Asma Kalban and Maitha Al Khayat.
This year, there will also be a "Youth Day", which will take place on March 7 and is available to young people aged 16 and over. Tickets cost Dh175 and provide a 50 per cent discount for six sessions, as well as access to talks by, among others, Dr Rafia Ghubash, the first female president of the Arabian Gulf University, Jennifer Palmieri, Hillary Clinton's former Director of Communications, and Omar Saif Ghobash, author of Letters to a Young Muslim.
Ahlam Bolooki, director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, said: “Around the world, we have seen classifications and separations dividing people into colours, genders and faiths. The notion of ‘Us vs. Them’ is everywhere. What the world needs more than ever before, is unity.
"We want our festival to be a meeting point for the world. Readers and non-readers, men and women, young and experienced, no matter who you are and where you are from, we have so much in common. We all share our uniquely human condition, our worries and concerns, our hopes and dreams. Throughout our programme, you will find sessions that speak to us all.
“With top authors and experts on all manner of topics to entertain, inform and surprise, we are the home of intelligent conversations that make you look at the world in new ways.”
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature was launched in 2009 and has quickly established itself as one of the largest and most popular in the Arab world. This year, about 40,000 people attended to hear speakers from more than 50 countries.
A selection of other names from the programme
F. Murzban Shroff
Shahad Al Rawi
Saeed Abdullah Al Madhloum
Aditi Belame Kumar
Iman Ben Chaibah
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature takes place from March 1 to 9 next year in Dubai Festival City. Tickets go on sale from December 6. For details, visit www.emirateslitfest.com