HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is himself a poet, so it’s no surprise he judged a festival of literature to be worthy of his patronage.

Now in its sixth year, the annual event is the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Middle East, and last year won Best Festival at the Middle East Event Awards. The programme gives visitors a chance to meet world-renowned authors, join literary debates, hear readings and attend workshops.

Ben Okri, the Booker Prize-winning novelist and poet who attended last year, said, “While nations may fight wars, they also read each other’s books. Literature is the greatest friend-maker.”

In this spirit, the festival will host more than 150 writers, thinkers and speakers from 25 countries. Designed for wide appeal, the programme of over 200 one-off sessions has something to suit every taste and age group, including children.

The genres at the Emirates Airline Festival Of Literature include crime, thriller, fantasy, horror, romance and historical fiction. Among the non-fiction genres are science and technology, journalism, current affairs, history, psychology, business, self-help and cookery. Poetry plays a major role – head to Desert Stanzas for an evening of poetry readings, music and food under the stars – while writers among you will enjoy the ‘Into Print’ talks, panels and workshops focused on writing and getting published.

The Author Programme includes talks, readings, and discussions led by bestselling authors, as well as cookery demonstrations and literary lunches. Top authors host classes in a wide range of subjects in the workshop and masterclass programme, and the free Fringe Festival consists of music and drama performances around the InterContinental Hotel. Find an event to suit you, or take a chance with an author you don’t know. Either way, you’re sure to leave with a new reading list – good preparation for a long, hot summer.

For your full list of authors, click here.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Flashes of Thought, by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai (published by Motivate Publishing), will be discussed in a panel with Ian Fairservice, Managing Partner of Motivate, Jamal Al Shehhi, Emirati writer and publisher, and Dr Sulaiman Al Jassim, Vice President of Zayed University.

InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, March 7, 3pm to 4pm, Dhs65 .

Raja Shehadeh
A lawyer and writer, Shehadeh is founder of the pioneering human rights organisation Al Haq, an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists. His most recent book is Occupation Diaries, which has been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, 2013. His book Palestinian Walks: Notes On A Vanishing Landscape won the 2008 Orwell Prize for Political Writing.

Jim Al KhalilI
A nuclear physicist, author and broadcaster who writes about the most exciting areas of physics research. He received an OBE in 2007 for services to the promotion of science through writing, public speaking and broadcasting on TV and radio. “I want to inspire people with the beauty of science and a rational view of the world.”

Julia Johnson
Popular children’s author Julia Johnson will talk about her new book,The Turtle Secret, which is to be released at the festival. The writer of The Leopard Boy will discuss the book about the shy creatures at a session on Friday, March 7, 11.30am, Dhs45.


William Sitwell Editor of Waitrose Kitchen and creator of FOOD for Spinneys, Dubai. Regular presenter on BBC TV show MasterChef and author of A History Of Food In 100 Recipe.

Nicholas Evans War reporter-turned author, screenwriter and film producer. His first novel, The Horse Whisperer, has sold more than ten million copies worldwide and was made into a 1998 Hollywood blockbuster.

Anita Papas A clinical psychologist and writer of self-help books The Positive You!, The Positive Us! and Go For It!. “I challenge readers to be the best version of themselves.”

Tim Mackintosh-Smith One of the 12 finest travel writers of the past one hundred years according to Newsweek, his books include Yemen: Travels In Dictionary Land and a trilogy of books on the travels of Ibn Battuta.

Joanne Harris Author of more than 13 novels, including Chocolat, which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.

John Boyne Author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, which has sold more than six million copies worldwide and was made into a feature film.

Ali Alsaloom Columnist for The National, answering readers’ questions about UAE culture; author of Ask Ali: A Guide To Abu Dhabi and Ask Ali: A Guide To Dubai.

Charlie Higson Creator of TV comedy The Fast Show, writer for Harry Enfield and one of the UK’s finest comic actors, Charlie Higson then became a bestselling author of four crime novels, the Young James Bond series for younger readers and zombie horror series The Enemy. Which was nice.

Charles Arthur Technology editor for The Guardian newspaper, author of Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft And The Battle For The Internet.

March 4 to 8
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City. Tel: (04) 3534002. Taxi: Festival City. emirateslitfest.com