Sponsored: Attention bookworms, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is here from February 4 to 9…

There’s nothing quite like the Lit Fest for the book worms and story lovers among us. It is one of the world’s most diverse festivals dedicated to the written word and is a stalwart of Dubai’s cultural calendar. This year, more than 180 of the world’s greatest writers, thinkers and doers come together for the 12th edition. The programme is jam-packed with authors from all over the world to delight and astound people of all ages. Here are a few events to bookmark now…

February 4: Deserts Stanzas

The atmospheric signature event, Deserts Stanzas, opens the Festival with an enthralling line-up featuring poets from the USA, Ireland, Portugal, UK and UAE. These include Hassan Al Matrooshi, Harry Baker, Afra Atiq, Eleanor Hooker and Carlos Andrés Gómez, the sensational performance poet who has twice won the International Slam Poetry Championship. In a beautiful venue set at the edge of the city, Desert Stanzas is an unforgettable evening of enchanting poetry under the stars and moon-lit dunes, alongside music and traditional Emirati food. Tickets cost Dhs249 and takes place on Tuesday February 4 7pm to 9.30pm.

February 5: Murder Mystery Dinner

The Murder Mystery Dinner ‘Killing Villanelle with Luke Jennings’ will be an evening like no other, over a three-course meal and a staged performance of an enigmatic assassination, guests get the chance to solve a murder. The evening will kick off with a conversation with author and journalist Luke Jennings whose books were adapted for the TV smash hit series Killing Eve.  The author will talk about the inspirations for his characters and actors following which the audience is plunged into a thrilling Dubai-based mystery scenario where they have to deduce who is ‘Killing Villanelle’ over a delectable three-course meal. Tickets cost Dhs249 and takes place on Wednesday February 5, 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

February 7: Vegan Supper Club


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The Vegan Supper Club with BOSH! will be a night out that’s good for you and good for the planet. Henry Firth and Ian Theasby aka Internet sensation BOSH!, the world’s most viewed and most loved plant-based recipe channel, perform a live demonstration of some of their favourite dishes. Guests enjoy a delicious three-course vegan meal and hear BOSH! speak frankly about the ideas in their latest book How to Live Vegan. Tickets cost Dhs299 and takes place on Friday February 7, 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

February 9: Festival Finale: Tomorrow

New for this year is the Festival Finale: Tomorrow, a charitable event which will feature music, poetry and readings in support of child refugees across the region. The Festival Finale will be an inspiring evening with the best of the LitFest and exceptional performances from renowned poets, writers and a children’s choir performing Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo – the extraordinary story of refugee Nujeen Mustafa. Joining Nujeen on stage will be Markus Zusak internationally acclaimed author of The Book Thief; Harry Baker and Chris Reed, the UK’s favourite comedy-rap-jazz duo; Malala’s parents, Ziauddin and Toor Pekai Yousafzai; Onjali Q. Raúf, author of the award winning children’s book The Boy at the Back of the Class about a young refugee; English author, poet and translator Kevin Crossley-Holland, and many more. All proceeds made will go to Dubai Cares’ programmes for child refugees across the region.

Ticket prices start from Dhs99 and go up to Dhs799, with guests encouraged to choose the price they can afford to help the Festival raise more funds for those most in need.

Ten of the best

From the 180 confirmed authors to attend, we have selected 10 unmissable speakers you need to hear this year…

(1) Jane Goodall, Chimpanzee expert and active conservationist

(2) Mai Jia, arguably the most successful writer in China today

(3) Sir Ranulph Fiennes; the world’s greatest explorer

(4) Jo Nesbø, one of the world’s greatest crime writers

(5) Nadiya Hussain, TV presenter and best-selling author

(6) Jokha Alharthi, the first Arab winner of the International Man Booker Prize

(7) Jeetendr Sehdev celebrity branding expert

(8) Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief

(9) Hazzaa Al Mansouri, the UAE’s first astronaut in space

(10) Omar Saif Ghobash, Emirati diplomat and author of Letters to a Young Muslim

For more information, visit emirateslitfest.com/shop