Literary festival unveils star line-up

Margaret Atwood, the British historical novelist Bernard Cornwell and the Syrian poet Adonis are among the award-winning writers who will appear at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the organisers announced yesterday.

The British poet Simon Armitage, children's writer Anthony Horovitz and Michael Palin, the former Monty Python star now famous for his travel writing and BBC television series, will also attend the festival at the InterContinental Hotel in Dubai from March 8 to 12.

"These are writers that have appeal across the board and across nationalities, from new talent that is emerging to globally famous names and personalities with a broad appeal," said Isobel Abulhoul, the festival's director.

The event is in its third year and will feature about 100 authors, with more expected to be announced before March. Other well-known names include Lionel Shriver, the Orange Prize-winning writer of We Need to Talk About Kevin; Tony Parsons, author of Man and Boy; Marina Lewycka, who wrote A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian; the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan and Madhur Jaffrey, an Indian cookbook writer and BBC television chef.

Margaret Atwood, who wrote The Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace and won the 2000 Man Booker International Prize for The Blind Assassin, withdrew from the festival last year after another author accused organisers of excluding her for censorship reasons. Ms Atwood later apologised and said she had been misinformed about the facts, going on to conduct her question-and-answer session online.

"I consider her a literary great, as do many others, and it will be fabulous to have her here in person this year," Ms Abulhoul said. She added that she was excited to meet with the Egyptian author of the blog-turned-book I Want to Get Married, Ghada Abdel Aal.

"There are so many exciting Arab-world authors emerging, and I think she is just a great example of work that is humorous and current and something that everyone can appreciate," she said.

The poetry line-up has been expanded to include the Emirati poets Sultan al Amimi, Ahmed Amiri, Ibrahim M Ibrahim and Wael al-Sayegh, Yang Lian, from China, as well as Adonis.

Anthony Browne and Emily Gravett will be among the children's authors and illustrators to join festival favourite Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider series for older children, as well as the newcomer Steven Butler, who wrote The Wrong Pong.

"If we can inject joy and enthusiasm about reading by having writers speak directly with children and their parents, that makes a huge difference in turning non-readers into readers and making books something they will want to turn to for pleasure," Ms Abulhoul said.

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1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat


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Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through and

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July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

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Haemoglobin disorders explained

Thalassaemia is part of a family of genetic conditions affecting the blood known as haemoglobin disorders.

Haemoglobin is a substance in the red blood cells that carries oxygen and a lack of it triggers anemia, leaving patients very weak, short of breath and pale.

The most severe type of the condition is typically inherited when both parents are carriers. Those patients often require regular blood transfusions - about 450 of the UAE's 2,000 thalassaemia patients - though frequent transfusions can lead to too much iron in the body and heart and liver problems.

The condition mainly affects people of Mediterranean, South Asian, South-East Asian and Middle Eastern origin. Saudi Arabia recorded 45,892 cases of carriers between 2004 and 2014.

A World Health Organisation study estimated that globally there are at least 950,000 'new carrier couples' every year and annually there are 1.33 million at-risk pregnancies.

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  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

if you go

The flights

Etihad, Emirates and Singapore Airlines fly direct from the UAE to Singapore from Dh2,265 return including taxes. The flight takes about 7 hours.

The hotel

Rooms at the M Social Singapore cost from SG $179 (Dh488) per night including taxes.

The tour

Makan Makan Walking group tours costs from SG $90 (Dh245) per person for about three hours. Tailor-made tours can be arranged. For details go to

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