New dates and format announced for 2020 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Set to take place from February 4 to 9, the 12th edition of the literary festival will be earlier and shorter than previous ones

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The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, now in its 12th edition, has announced new dates and a revised shorter format for its 2020 programme.

Traditionally held in March, the festival’s next edition will take place from Tuesday, February 4 to Sunday, February 9, 2020 at the InterContinental Dubai, Festival City.

The format has also been changed from the usual 10-day event to a five-day programme, which will host more than 130 international and local authors from a variety of genres, including fiction, non-fiction, children’s fiction, memoir, science, history, well-being, business leadership and more.

Every year, the festival features meet-and-greet opportunities with famous authors, literary debates, readings and workshops.

Book signings and meet-and-greets with authors are often part of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Courtesy of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

In a statement, festival director Ahlam Bolooki commented on the changes: “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," she said. "Some old favourite festival features will return along with new developments.”

The list of authors and programme details for the 2020 edition have not yet been announced.

Launched in 2009 by Emirates Airline and Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, the festival has grown to become the Middle East’s largest celebration of literature and spoken word. Over the years, it has invited renowned authors and poets such as Simon Armitage, Douglas Coupland, Carol Ann Duffy, Frank Gardner, Ian Rankin, Jon Ronson, Wole Soyinka, Cheryl Strayed and Anuradha Vijayakrishnan.

In 2013, the festival launched the annual Montegrappa Writing Prize, which gives first-time writers from the GCC an opportunity to have their published manuscripts reviewed by UK literary agent Luigi Bonomi Associates. It is also responsible for organising a slew of student competitions for schools and universities, including The Story Writing Competition and The Taaleem Award, a yearly poetry writing contest.

Developed with the aim of promoting a reading culture in the UAE, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is one of the longest-running literary events in the country. According to Hala Badri, director general of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, the festival is in line with the Dubai Plan 2021 “to make Dubai a city of happy, empowered and proud individuals”.

Next year, another literary festival is coming to the UAE. The Hay Festival – an export from the UK – will be held in Abu Dhabi from Monday, February 24 to Thursday, February 27.