DUBAI // Jeffery Deaver teased the crowd yesterday, holding up an envelope and slowly revealing the white card within.
Carte Blanche is the name of the new James Bond novel, which has been set amid the skyscrapers and blue waters of Dubai and is due for release in May.
Deaver, speaking during a press conference in Dubai’s Festival City yesterday announcing details of March’s Emirates airline Festival of Literature, said he was inspired by the city when he visited for last year’s event.
“When I thought about the setting for the new book I thought immediately about Dubai,” said Deaver. “Not only is it an incredibly fun, wonderful and exhilarating place but it retains at its heart an exotic core.
“If Ian Fleming had lived to write more books I’m sure this would have been the place he would have chosen to set at least one of them,” he added.
Deaver has written more than 28 thrillers including The Bone Collector and Garden of Beasts, which won the UK based CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award for best thriller in 2004.
With Carte Blanche he joins a long line of high-profile authors who have penned 007 novels since Ian Fleming died in 1964. They include Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Raymond Benson. The most recent, Devil May Care, was written in 2008 by Sebastian Faulks.
Corrine Turner, the managing director of Ian Fleming Publications, said she was delighted to welcome Deaver to the Bond family.
"With Jeffery we decided to bring James Bond's literary adventures into the 21st century," she said. "Dubai is a wonderfully
Bond-esque location and it was a great thrill to work with [Deaver] on producing 007’s newest mission.”
Isobel Abulhoul, the director of the festival said she was “over the moon” to welcome Deaver and the news of the Bond novel.
“I have a very vivid imagination and from the first e-mail I received about this project I have been imagining plot lines for the book,” she said. “I am just so delighted that a real story has come out of the festival and that Jeffery was touched by what he saw in Dubai and he is giving back something so positive.
"This is a great thing for Dubai and it shows the rest of the world we do have a cultural heart and we are alive and kicking."
Deaver added that during his visits to Dubai, when he was writing the novel, he was drawn to the juxtaposition of the ancient culture and modern skylines. He likes Port Saeed and Deira in particular, because they have "soul", he said.
Literary enthusiasts in Dubai were excited by the news. Bonita Carr, a 33-year-old South African, who has been hosting her own informal book club for the past two years, is eager to get her hands on the novel.
“I’ve read all Jeffery Deaver’s books and I think Dubai will be a really interesting setting,” she said. “We have the tallest tower in the world and lots of amazing infrastructure and landmarks. I can just imagine James Bond whizzing round the fronds of the Palm. As long as it’s accurate and Dubai doesn’t get misinterpreted, I look forward to reading it. It is most definitely something to add to the book club list.”
Deaver said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice-President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, had expressed a great interest in the book. The possibility of a film version has already been raised, with the two having already “made plans to pursue the connection further”.
The Emirates Airline Festival for Literature will take place from March 8-12 and feature more than 120 authors from around the world. It will also include workshops for aspiring writers, poetry readings, book signings and a gala evening with highly respected authors such as Margaret Atwood, Michael Palin and Wole Soyinka.
Tickets go on sale today from all Magrudy's outlets or from the festival's official website www.emirateslitfest.com
The best #dubaijamesbond tweets
The #dubaijamesbond hashtag went wild on Twitter this afternoon, with users suggesting joke names for a Bond story set in Dubai. Here are some of the best:
Dhow Another Day
The Spy Who Treated Me In a Culturally Appropriate Manner That Reflected Local Traditions
The Spy Who Loved Mezze
The Man With The Golden Tissue Box
From Barsha With Love
Dubai World Is Not Enough
Tomorrow Never Dies, Inshallah
Dr No, Pharmacist Yes
Drive and Let Die
Books set in Dubai
The Witch of Portobello, Paulo Coelho
Coelho's 2007 novel tells the story of Athena, a Romanian orphan who grew up in Beirut. She flees to London when war breaks out, then moves to Dubai.
Camels Love Dubai, Stephen Wilkins
This 2009 book tells the story of a Sri Lankan man who loses his family in the 2004 tsunami and then moves to Dubai to go to university.
The Rainbow that Never Was, Ayadh Farooq
A 2002 tale of love and loss, centred on an American woman who is drawn into adventure when she visits Dubai.
The Sand Fish, Maha Gargash
A 1950s-era story about a teenaged girl who becomes the third wife to an aging and wealthy businessman before falling in love with his servant.