Over the 11 days of the Festival, a total of 181 authors representing 47 nationalities took to the stage at the Habtoor City Hotels, evenly split between Arab and non Arab writers and with a 100 per cent increase on author numbers from the previous year. The number of Emirati authors included in the programme was also double the number featured last year.
Onsite audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Survey results show that 64% of all respondents are returning visitors; and out of these returning visitors, 20% have been to the festival 10 times of more. The survey also revealed that 94% of visitors were happy or extremely happy with the Festival across five categories: speakers, range of events, atmosphere, interaction for ELF and venue, with respondents describing it as “Amazing” and a “much needed festival”.
“It really is wonderful for the team to have this fantastic feedback, said Ahlam Bolooki, festival director. “It is great to know that our programme reflects the tastes and interests of our enthusiastic and growing fan base, and that our efforts have such a powerful impact on people’s lives.”
Bolooki continued, “It was so exciting to have school buses dropping hundreds of children off at the Festival again this year. We have missed their energy over the past two year. At the Emirates LitFest we are always reinventing the Festival, which keeps our audiences coming back year after year, knowing they will experience new ways of connecting with literature. More than ever, we have had events that brought together different art forms to elevate the audiences’ interaction with literature, from musical poetry duos, to themed dinners with performing arts, to our Fright Night and literary debates. Creativity and constant innovation are at the heart of the Festival’s success, and we can’t wait for our plans for our 15th edition to come to life.”
Boutros Boutros, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand said:
“The continued success of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is a testament to the deep hunger and passion for literature and the arts that so many people possess. The Festival celebrates the written word and rich storytelling traditions from the region and all over the world, offering avid readers the opportunity to engage with established authors and rising stars. As sponsors of the Festival, Emirates is proud to bring people together to explore new horizons, exchange ideas and discuss their visions for the future.”
Amongst the high-profile dignitaries who graced the event were His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, who visited the festival on two separate occasions, and Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, who came to the opening ceremony.
HE Noora Al Kaabi also attended the opening ceremony, and HE Reem Al Hashimy closed the Festival speaking with Ex PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi at a special session at Expo 2020 Dubai. Many other luminaries and VIPs also enjoyed the Festival, including many sessions offering hope and optimism in line with the theme, Here Comes the Sun.
Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts and Literature Sector at Dubai Culture, expressed his pride in the impressive results achieved by the festival this year, saying:
“The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has continued its journey of continuous success, achieving unique achievements. It opened a new door to support literary talents at the local and regional levels through the new publishing house, ELF Publishing LLC, and once again provided a platform to empower and encourage local talents, providing them with the opportunity to leave their creative imprints on society and launch towards global horizons. Dubai Culture supports this international festival and seeks to maintain its position as a unique window to advance the literature sector in the emirate and the UAE towards building a sustainable future for future generations. This aligns with our vision to cement Dubai’s position as a global centre for culture, an incubator for creativity, and a thriving hub for talent as well as a global centre for the creative economy.”
Ticket sales increased by 184% year on year. Entries for the student competitions held firm, while the number of entries in the adult competitions grew by 62%, with the introduction of the First Chapter: the ELF Seddiqi Writers’ Fellowship.
Sold-out sessions included fun and frivolity with multi-talented top children’s author David Walliams, cutting-edge insights from entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and Indra Nooyi, ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful women executives, and Bridgerton author Julia Quinn, speaking about the amazing success of the screen version of her books, ahead of the launch of season two.
Other highlights included the book launch of Dare to Dream: How Mohammed bin Rashid Made His Dream of Dubai Come True written by Raed Barqawi. It explores how, under the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai has become a leading global hub for talent.
The Festival is held with Founding Partners Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture and 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.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will return in 2023.
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.