Dubai, UAE : This year’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will feature a children’s programme overflowing with nonsense, mischief and hilarious capers starring captivating characters, old and new. With a strong line-up of children’s authors making up more than 20% of the programme, the Festival is offering something for everyone from its new home at the Habtoor City hotels, 3 - 13 February 2022.

Families can celebrate the tenth anniversary of the publication of Gangsta Granny with David Walliams himself, one of the most popular children’s authors in the world today, or discover the dastardly happenings at The Cruel School with the mysterious science teacher Doctor Doktur from Mega Monster.

Helping young people deal with the overwhelming feelings is the mission of TV chef, author and television presenter Nadiya Hussain who’s stories explore feelings and emotions, helping children confront their fears and acknowledge their differences. There is also the man behind the internet sensation #DrawWithRob, Rob Biddulph, who will be in Dubai to introduce Peanut Jones and her incredible adventures as she draws herself in and out of danger.

Also in Dubai will be the multi-talented Ben Miller with his latest magical mishap adventure story, starring a boy who finds out what it’s like to become a dog, or hear what happens to Greta Woebegone and the ghosts who share her house from best-selling children’s author Sam Copeland.

For pre-teens there’s the award-winning author of the Shapeshifter series Ali Sparkes, with the final book in her most recent fantasy adventure Night Forever which reaches its heart-stopping conclusion at the top of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Nayanika Mahtani holds up a mirror to the partition of the Indian sub-continent, looking at how borders shape us and how the shadows of the past can affect us, in her novel for ages 12+, Across the Line. Erin Entrada Kelly, a Filipino-American award-winning writer of books including Hello Universe and The Land of Forgotten Girls, will be in Dubai with her latest book, We Dream of Space, a story of three siblings discovering that life rarely goes smoothly. Julia Johnson and Maitha Al Khayat explore the tradition of pearl diving through storytelling and illustration, while Karine Jaber and Sara Sadik consider the unexpected gifts of the pandemic in The Extraordinary Pause. Well-known UAE TV personality Layne Redman will be making his first appearance at the Festival to celebrate his new series of books featuring Luam, whose first adventure Luam’s Balm, is set in Jamaica.

Ben Bailey Smith, aka Doc Brown, is a British actor, rapper, comedian. In his first solo fiction title, Something I said! his hilarious hero Carmichael discovers what really matters in life and whether being infamous is a good thing.

Ben is also the author of picture books for younger children, and with illustrator Sav Akyüz, will get children on their feet with the purple bear showing off his dance moves in I Am Bear and Bear Moves. Polly Dunbar, author of the award-winning picture book Penguin, looks at two of life’s big questions - what being safe means and how to be calm – in Rawr! A lion is a lion. Younger ones will also enjoy Ebitsam Al-Beiti with her tale of Citrus the Smoothie Sloth, Beverley Jatwani with her picture book, Tala the Bengal Tiger, and the madcap antics of Magic Phil, everybody’s favourite storytelling magician. There is also a free session celebrating the launch of the second anthology of winning stories entered into the 2021 Voices of Future Generations competition.

The Arabic children’s programmes features Dubai Abulhoul with her retelling of Emirati folk tales for children, and Hadil Ghoniem, author of Layali Shahrzizi (The Nights of Shahrzizi) which won the 2020 Etisalat Book of the Year award for Arabic Children’s Literature. There’s also Gulnar Hajou, Sanaa Chabbani, Safia Al Shehi, Sahar Naja Mahfouz, Abdulrahman Al Dasuki, and Nour Arab. 

Award-winning Dominican-American author Elizabeth Acevedo will be in Dubai to delight fans of YA fiction (14+), exploring the many themes from her novel in verse, Clap when You Land, exploring grief, love, and the bonds that connect us. S. K. Ali will be discussing her bestselling YA romance series Saints and Misfits and Love from A to Z featuring Muslim teen characters from diverse backgrounds in stories that are fun, relatable and also take on important issues.  She will be sharing her inspiration for the stories and the themes she explores.

Age is no barrier to being an author at this year’s LitFest. At the ‘Children’s Takeover’, some of Dubai’s youngest and brightest authors will read excerpts from their books, share their inspiration and challenges, and discuss what comes next.

For budding authors yet to write their own book, as always there are lots of interactive workshops to get children of all ages involved in creative writing and storytelling, drawing and illustration, poetry and poetry slam.

The Festival will comply with all current covid regulations, and visitors will be asked to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination, or a negative PCR taken within the previous 72 hours.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.

More information about the Emirates Literature Foundation can be found online and year-round news of #EmiratesLitFest on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The Foundation also has two podcasts; the Best of the Emirates LitFest, and the Boundless Book Club. 


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About the Emirates Literature Foundation:

The Emirates Literature Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which supports and nurtures a love of literature in the United Arab Emirates and the region, through a programme of varied cultural initiatives.

Established in 2013 by Royal Decree issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Foundation aims to foster a love for literature, with a focus on the Arabic language.

In line with the National Reading Policy of the UAE, the Foundation has implemented several long-term projects including the School Librarian of the Year Award, Kateb Maktub, and From the Inside Out, as well as conducting year-round student education programmes, book clubs and creative writing courses. The Foundation’s previous initiatives included the 2020 International Literary Festivals Conference, 2016 Dubai Translation Conference and the 2017 Dubai International Publishing Conference.

The Foundation is also the governing body of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the UAE’s premier literary festival. 

About the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature:

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the Arab World’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, featuring international and regional writers, poets, thinkers and speakers from around the world. Over the last 13 years more than 1,700 authors from over one hundred countries have spoken at the Festival. In 2021 the Festival reached more than 117,000 people, in person and via live streaming. Sessions included Nobel prize winner Malala, Booker Prize nominees Avni Doshi (Burnt Sugar) and Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister the Serial Killer), as well as internationally acclaimed authors Elif Shafak, Amin Maalouf and Lemn Sissay. Behavioural expert Thomas Erikson shared a stage with Sherif Arafa, and the Education Programme featured children’s favourites Ali Sparkes, Obada Takla, Sam Copeland, Isabel Thomas, Sanaa Chabbani, and Ben Baily Smith, AKA Doc Brown.

The aim of the Festival is to develop a culture of reading as an enjoyable habit in the UAE, and its efforts have been recognised through many awards over the years. By providing an equal platform for international and locally based talents, the Festival continues to build the literary landscape in the UAE and further afield. Alongside the main programme, the Festival organises an Education programme, reaching students across the seven emirates of the UAE. There are also student competitions, held in Arabic and English, which allow young people to showcase their skills through poetry, short stories and reading.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Festival is a key part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, which was established in 2013 by Royal Decree. In partnership with Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be back in 2022. For information and updates about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature visit the website:  

About Emirates

Emirates is an award-winning international airline with a global footprint across six continents, connecting passengers and facilitating global trade to and through its modern hub, Dubai to over 120 destinations. The airline operates one of the most modern and efficient aircraft fleet comprised of spacious and comfortable Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft. With a culturally diverse workforce from over 130 nationalities, Emirates caters to its global customer base by delivering exceptional services and world-class products. The airline also supports local communities worldwide and brings people together through its vast portfolio of international sports and cultural sponsorships.

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