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Emirates LitFest prepares for its 16th edition

The literature event will take place from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6 at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City. (Supplied)
The literature event will take place from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6 at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City. (Supplied)
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16 Jan 2024 01:01:39 GMT9
16 Jan 2024 01:01:39 GMT9

Manar Elbaz

DUBAI: Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (Emirates LitFest) held a press conference on Monday to prepare for its 16th edition, which will take place from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6 and will feature a variety of renowned guests, such as Japanese bestselling author Toshikazu Kawaguchi. 

Emirates LitFest is the Middle East’s biggest literary event that is held annually to celebrate the love of literature in the United Arab Emirates.

The festival announced that they will be adding a variety of new programs, for example, the LitFest AfterHours program, which will include different performances, games, food, and activities taking place after the discussions. 

“Much like travel, storytelling in any art form has the power to transcend borders and introduce new and diverse cultures,” Badr Abbas, Emirates’ Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations in Africa, told Arab News Japan regarding this year’s edition. 

“The new additions to the line-up will not only enhance the event but will enrich the city’s position as a flourishing art and culture hub year-round. Emirates remains committed to connecting with global communities through art, music, and literature that enrich the lives of many,” he added. 

Badr Abbas, Emirates’ Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations, Africa (Left), Ahlam Bolooki, CEO of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (Middle), and Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of Dubai Culture and Arts (Right) during the Emirates LitFest Press Conference on Monday. (ANJ)

Emirates LitFest is collaborating with Dubai Civil Defense to reveal a reading caravan, a mobile library, which will go around Dubai and Hatta throughout the year. The caravan will be revealed during the festival.

“It is my pleasure and honor to elevate the UAE’s cherished literary festival to unprecedented heights,” said Ahlam Bolooki, CEO of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, regarding this year’s edition.

“This is a new age for books, reading, and storytelling, and we are poised to lead the charge. Our innovative events and groundbreaking partnerships with trend-setting collaborators reflect our commitment to shaping a literary landscape that resonates with the pulse of our audience,” she added. 

The Emirates Literature Foundation also announced their official relations with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), highlighting the success of the event’s initiatives and their contribution to UNESCO’s overarching goals. 

Ahlam Bolooki, CEO of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, at the Emirates LitFest press conference. (ANJ)

One of this year’s main speakers is the bestselling Japanese author Toshikazu Kawaguchi, writer of the “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” series, who participated in the event in 2022.

Born in Osaka, Kawaguchi is an author, playwright, and producer who is known for his 2015 novel “Before the Coffee Gets Cold,” which follows several characters as they travel back in time before returning when their coffee gets cold.

The Japanese author will discuss the fourth book of the series, titled “Before We Say Goodbye,” during the festival on Feb. 3  from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

“Kawaguchi’s past session was remarkable,” Bolooki told Arab News Japan. “His books are on the best-seller list all over the world.”

“He loves the festival, and when he went back home the last time, he sent us a wonderful email to say that if he could go back in time (like the plot in his books), he would go back to tell his father about his trip to Dubai,” she added.  

The festival plans to have more international, including Japanese, authors in the future. “It’s so important for us to have diversity in geography amongst our authors who are invited to the festival because that’s what Dubai’s community is made of,” said Bolooki. “We have almost 200 nationalities in Dubai, so the international community can always find themselves reflected in the festival.”

Furthermore, this year’s edition will also witness the launch of new books such as “Out of This World” by Sultan Al Neyadi, recently appointed UAE’s Minister of Youth, who previously trained at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and became the first Arab to serve on the International Space Station (ISS) for a 6-month mission. 

His photo journal book, published by ELF Publishing, will showcase the beauty of the universe from the vantage point of the ISS as well as his personal reflections and insights throughout his journey as an astronaut. His remarkable session will take place on Feb. 3. 

Zahra Lari, a five-time Emirati National Champion in figure skating who competed in the Asian Winter Games in Japan in the 2016–2017 season, will launch her children’s picture book “Not Yet” during the festival on Feb. 3 as well. 

This year’s lineup will also include Egyptian graphic novelist and webcomic writer Deena Mohamed, known for her prize-winning comic Your Wish Is My Command (Shubeik Lubeik), as she shares stories about her life that inspired her work.

Other speakers at the event include, but are not limited to, Korean-to-English translator Anton Hur, Booker Prize-winning author and President of the Royal Society of Literature Bernardine Evaristo, and the First Lady of Iceland, Eliza Reid. 

Multiple special events will take place throughout the festival, including, but not limited to, a dedication to the life and work of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, the region’s first TikTok Book Awards, and a concert by Emirati musician Rashed Alnuaimi. 

Additionally, this year, a variety of speakers will take part in free sessions titled Discovery Talks, where they will discuss intriguing perspectives on different topics, such as the Spiderverse and artificial intelligence. 

The event will take place at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City. Tickets are now on sale on the Emirates LitFest website.

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