Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 May 2019

Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature: key events and sessions during the first weekend

From diplomacy to history, this year's Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature covers a variety of events - we pick our key ones to not miss (including five for children)

The UAE Ambassador to France, Omar Saif Ghobash, will talk about how technology affects diplomacy. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
The UAE Ambassador to France, Omar Saif Ghobash, will talk about how technology affects diplomacy. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

The Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature is not all about popular reads, the events also provide a platform for international and regional thinkers to discuss global issues and concerns. These are key the events and sessions from the opening weekend.

Read our interviews with authors Khaled Khalifa and Shari Lapena, both of who will also be appearing at the event.

Lessons from the Levant

Friday, 2pm

The turmoil surrounding the Arab World is arguably down to the infamous Sykes-Picot territorial agreement signed more than a century ago. Former British ambassador to Lebanon, Thomas Fletcher, and Eugene Rogan, researcher and author of The Arabs: A History, will be joined by Syrian journalist Dima Wannous to discuss the geopolitical ramifications of the agreement and the role that global powers play in regional strife.

William Dalrymple: The World’s Most Infamous Diamond

Friday, 6pm

Despite its glamour and beauty, the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which is currently on public display on London, has a sordid and bloody past. Scottish writer and historian William Dalrymple traces its journey from discovery in India, being the cause of violence perpetrated by the rulers from the Mughal and Persian empires, and its controversial acquisition by the British royal family.

Muhammad Yunus: A World of Three Zeroes

Friday, 7.30pm

Nobel Peace Prize winner and microfinance pioneer Muhammad Yunus appears at the literature festival to discuss his latest book, which looks at how altruism can become as potent an economic force as capitalism, working towards a world without poverty. He will also share stories of socially conscious businesses whose innovation did not come at the cost of their values.


Read more: Emirates Airline Festival of Literature announces full line-up


Digital Diplomacy: Omar Saif Ghobash

Saturday, 2pm

Omar Saif Ghobash, the UAE Ambassador to France and author of the powerful treatise, Letters to a Young Muslim, discusses the changing role of diplomacy in an online world. With foreign policy announced, and sometimes hindered, by heads of state in a space of a few tweets, Ghobash will look at how technology can be used responsibly by individuals and institutions in power. He will be joined in the discussion by Thomas Fletcher.

I Shall Be What I Want: Hawaa Mohamed Ahli

Saturday, 6pm

Emirati civil servant Hawaa Mohamed Ahli’s rise in the Dubai Government’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs came despite a speech disorder and hearing impairment. In a series of books, I Shall Be What I Want, Ahli interviewed prominent Emiratis with disabilities who broke down taboos and workplace barriers. She will use this event to share their stories.

Shashi Tharoor examines the British Empire in India in his latest book. AFP
Shashi Tharoor examines the British Empire in India in his latest book. AFP

Shashi Tharoor: Inglorious Empire

Saturday, 6pm

Whether through his potent writing or charismatic public addresses, flamboyant Indian politician Shashi Tharoor is a draw at any festival. He returns to the UAE to discuss his latest book, Inglorious Empire, which examines the role of the British Empire in India, arguing that it is a period that has been more mythologised than understood. He will be joined at the festival by William Dalrymple.

Five programmes for the kids

Jacqueline Wilson: The History Girls

Friday, 10am-11am, from Dh50, ages 9+

Al Baraha 3, InterContinental

Jacqueline Wilson, best known for her beloved characters that include the mischievous Tracy Beaker and headstrong Hetty Feather, presents her new book, Wave Me Goodbye, which tells the story of 10-year-old Shirley, an evacuee in the Second World War, who is sent to live in a strange old house with the mysterious Mrs Waverley. The first 200 ticket buyers will have the chance to meet Wilson for a book signing and photo.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave: The Girl of Ink and Stars

Friday, 2pm-3pm, from Dh50, ages 8+

Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

The award-winning The Girl of Ink and Stars is about a young girl who volunteers to guide the search around her island for her missing best friend with the help of maps and her knowledge of the stars. Her latest book, The Island at the End of Everything, is about a young girl who longs to return to her island home. The author will speak about her love of myth and folklore, and why islands make such magical fictional worlds.

Katy Hudson: Tortoises, Rabbits and Runaway Eggs

Saturday, noon-1pm, from Dh50, ages 4+

Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

Animal lovers will enjoy a reading session with Katy Hudson, whose character Tortoise plans to sleep through the winter, but his friends hope to convince him to experience the fun of the frosty season. Hudson, in conversation with Ciaran Kelly, will read from A Loud Winter’s Nap, Too Many Carrots and The Runaway Egg, and will share how she creates her beautiful illustrations.

Philip Ardagh: The Eddie Dickens Trilogy

Saturday, 2pm-3pm, from Dh50, ages 7+

Al Baraha 3, InterContinental

Hop on a whirlwind tour of the Eddie Dickens Trilogy led by its award-winning author Philip Ardagh. The Victorian-era series begins with Eddie’s parents catching a disease that turns them yellow and crinkly, forcing him to go live with Mad Uncle Jack and Even Madder Aunt Maud, and that’s before he falls head-over-heels for a girl with a face like a camel, meets a murderous gang and finds himself traveling to America with a stowaway in his trunk.

Dinos in the Desert: Maitha Al Khayat and Elissa Elwick

Saturday, 2pm-3pm, from Dh50, ages 4+

Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

UAE-based author-illustrator Maitha Al Khayat and author Elissa Elwick present an interactive event that lets younger children shape the story of the unlikely friendship between a camel and a dinosaur. Children will collaborate to create the brand new story.

Updated: March 1, 2018 01:19 PM