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Guide to the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

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Bookworms, rejoice! Emirates Airline is bringing back their Festival of Literature and they’ve attracted a whole host of amazing authors, ranging from Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson (who we scored an amazing interview with here!) to writers like Saaf Al-Saadi, David Nicholls, Markus Zusak and industry insiders. There’s special meet and greets, workshops and no shortage of things to do for the kiddos and with six days of literary mania, it’s a little daunting knowing where to begin. Unfortunately there’s quite a bit that’s sold out (sadly Julia Donaldson’s ‘Is There Any Such Thing As A Gruffalo’ has no ‘room on the broom’ and David Walliams ‘Gangsta Grannies And Awful Aunties’ is also unavailable – sob!). Check Dubizzle for tickets or put a shout out on a Facebook community page if there’s something you REALLY want to go to – but we’ve put together a little guide to the best of what’s still available…

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How to Get Tickets

Head on over to their website for a full programme of sessions and ticket purchasing. Some of the events at the lit festival are actually open door events, meaning that you don’t actually have to pay! However you will have to head on over to the site to reserve a space through their online booking system to make sure that you don’t miss out.

For the Kiddos

There are a number of awesome events for the littles to get excited about – check our picks of what’s still available below and remember that the Time Out Story Corner (on the Waterfront Level of the InterContiental Hotel Events Centre) will run throughout the weekend of 6-7 March and will feature storytelling and arts & crafts. Booking is not required but get there early as places are limited!

Qasidah Par Coeur Competition: Final and Prize Giving
When: 4 March, 13:30 – 15:00
Where: Al Ras 1, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: Free

For the first time, this fab poetry slam is opening its doors to younger kiddos. With a number of internationally renowned poets and writers judging the finals, you’ll be able to watch students from all walks of life realise their creative potential in spoken word performances to remember.

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The War Horse Concert
When: 4 March, 19:30 – 21:00
Where: The Cultural and Scientific Association, Al Mamzar
Cost: AED 120 for Stalls and Circle tickets

After winning the hearts of audiences all over the world (and even scooping up an Oscar nom for the film adaptation), the super talented Michael Morpugo and the War Horse’s National Theatre cast are coming to town. Watch the beautifully evocative World War One play come to life with the insanely detailed life size horse puppets – the kiddos will go absolutely wild. Definitely one to see!

Alternately if you don’t think the kiddos will be able to sit still for that long, you’ll be able to see the puppets in action at a special session here.

Magic Ink And Aliens Stink!
When: 6 March, 10:00 – 11:00
Where: Al Baraha 2, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 50

Come and join Steve Cole, author of the Astrosaurs series, to find out about the smelly threat to Planet Earth from aliens and what happens when you use magic ink. There is also a new Young Bond book which he may be persuaded to mention! Fun and laughter are guaranteed from this talented writer who is – by his own admission – slightly crazy (we love a bit of crazy). English with simultaneous Arabic translation, for ages 8-12.

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The Book Thief and Beyond
When: 6 March, 13:00 – 14:00
Where: Al Baraha 3, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 50

We’re shocked that this still isn’t sold out. Markus Zusak, Australian author of the incredible award-winning novel The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, is going to be talking about the process of writing his World War 2 epic and the process of adapting it for the silver screen. We can relate to Zusak’s work on a personal level: “I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope that I have made them right.” Ages 12+.

Dragonsitters Needed!
When: 7 March, 16:30 – 17:30
Where: Al Baraha 1, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 50

Yes mama, you read that right! Writer Josh Lacey is going to be bringing his dragons to the desert city and your kids will be able to meet them in a series of fun adventures. Suitable for ages 6+.

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Exploding Adventures
When: 6 March, 11.30 – 12.30
Where: Al Ras 3, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 50

Rachel Hamilton will introduce you and the kiddos to the stars of her latest book – as well as telling  you how she created superstar character ‘Noelle’ and how a toilet played a huge part in Noelle’s life (as it does in ours these days – potty training at the Sassy Mama households!) Warning: A seriously funny event is planned! English with simultaneous Arabic.

The Grunts Are Back!
When: 6 March, 16.30 – 17.30
Where:
InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED

Ever thought your family was a little on the ‘unusual’ side mamas?! Well Philip Ardagh’s amazingly unique Grunt family are back and are as gloriously grubby and whacky as ever. Philip Ardagh will entertain you with his sense of fun (and his magnificent beard). English with simultaneous Arabic translation. For ages 7 – 10.

Diary Of A Naughty Boy
When: 7 March, 11.30 – 12.30
Where:
Al Rimal, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 50

Got a naughty boy at home? Well why not Faisal’s father and punish him with lots of reading! Books sweep Faisal and his friends away on a fantastic journey and what starts off as a punishment soon becomes the most wonderful adventure. Arabic with simultaneous English translation. For ages 7 – 11.

The Goat Who Wanted To Fly
When: 7 March, 15.00 – 16.00
Where: Al Baraha 1, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 50

Have you ever wished you could fly? Hold on to your dreams and you never know what might happen! Julia Johnson’s latest story will delight younger children with its rhymes and its adventurous little goat. A whole cast of Arabian wildlife joins our heroic goat as she struggles to make her dearest wish come true. As well as enjoying the story, you will learn about the animal world and what is lurking in the mountains…English with simultaneous Arabic translation. For ages 6+.

For the Bookworms

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Afternoon Tea In Wonderland
When: 5 March, 17:00 – 18:00
Where: Al Baraha 1, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 100

Any Lewis Carroll fans will love this adults only opportunity to join Philip Ardagh (who has recently written the intro to a new edition of Alice through the Looking Glass) for a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and a chat about the importance of food in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Dressing up for this event is ‘positively encouraged’! Sounds FAB!

Desert Stanzas
When: 5 March, 19:30 – 23:00
Where: Desert Camp
Cost: AED 375

One of the most memorable events of the literary festival, this night of literature will take you to the desert for an unforgettable experience. With international poets from all over the world coming together to hold readings under the night sky, let the award-winning darlings of the poetry world Saif Al-Saadi, Mourid Barghouti, Yang Lian, Victor Rodriguez Nunez and Owen Sheers amongst others wax lyrical. Transportation provided from Intercontinental Hotel at 6pm.

Cloud Atlas

The Bone Clocks with David Mitchell
When: 6 March, 15:00 – 16:00
Where: Al Baraha 3, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 70

The Man Booker shortlisted author is gracing the literary festival with his presence this year. So if you’re a fan of Cloud Atlas of Oscar-nomination fame or his brand new work The Bone Clocks, you’ll definitely want to head on over.

Entertaining Us! with David Nicholls
When: 6 March, 16:30 – 17:30
Where: Al Ras 3, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 70

David Nicholls won us over with the hard-hitting romance novel One Day as well as his keen adaptation of Great Expectations for BBC, and this time he’s going to be chatting about his new love story Us. We’ve seen him before and he’s absolutely entertaining, his genuine passion and excitement rolls off of him the same way his words leap off his pages.

For the Ladies

We’re absolutely nuts for the festival’s amazing Female Focus panels and workshops, aimed at promoting women’s writing in the region with no small amount of girl power. Check out our favourites below!

Female Focus: Women’s World Adventures, The Mountain in You
When: 5 March, 11:00 – 12:00
Where: Al Baraha 3, Intercontinental
Cost: AED 70

Run by travel go-getter Julie Lewis and a host of amazing adventurers, Jules will be talking about her expeditions across the Arctic and the Wahiba Sands to help inspire you to take on your next greatest challenge. With other women from all walks of life pitching in as well, you’ll be itching for a life-changing experience within minutes.

Female Focus: Women in Wonderland
When: 5 March, 12:00 – 13:00
Where: Al Baraha 2, Intercontinental
Cost: AED 70

Wonderland – the land of wild imagination and where absolutely anything can happen – seems like a faraway notion. But how far away is it really for women? Discussing both the amazing opportunities and limitations of a career and a family, Jenni Murray, Saira Shah and Adele Parks will be taking a close look at the journey down the rabbit hole.

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International Women’s Day
When: 7 March, 17:00 – 18:00
Where: Al Ras 3, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 70

Happy lady day, mamas! LitFest is stepping up their role in gender equality by hosting a number of amazing women including Chimamandah Ngozi Adichie, HE Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid al Qasimi, Bettany Hughes and Jenni Murray. These fab ladies will be talking gender equality and female empowerment on a global scale – we’re totally in.

For the Men (and Mamas Too)

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Extreme Adventures
When: 6 March, 10:00 – 11:00
Where: Al Ras 2, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 70

Led by a team of panelists who have tested themselves against all the elements (we’re talking polar expeditions, extreme athletics, solo journeys across sand and water and much more), prepare to learn about how we might all benefit from ‘getting extreme’. English with simultaneous Arabic translation.

Just Do It!
When: 5 March 20:00 – 21:00
Where: Al Ras 3, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 70

If your hubby is anything like ours, he may have been hooked on this modern day adventurer’s motorbike exploits in the TV series Long Way Round and Long Way Down with fellow actor Ewan McGregor. From London to New York, from John o’Groats to Cape Town, in the challenging terrain of the Dakar Rally, and around the world By Any Means, Charley clearly has energy and enthusiasm to burn and an irrepressible humour that wins him fans wherever he goes. Don’t miss this opportunity to discover what makes this man ‘just do it!’

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Beyond The Horizon
When: 7 March, 15:00 – 16:30
Where: Al Ras 3, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 70

When Rugby Union International Richard Parks suffered a career-shattering injury, he didn’t just roll over and admit defeat. Instead, he designed the magnificent 737 Challenge and became the first person to climb the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents and stand on all three poles (as the North and South Poles and Mt. Everest are often described) within seven months. This world first was also captured in a BBC Wales 3-part documentary series, Richard Parks: Conquering the World. Don’t miss this outstanding opportunity to hear from an extreme athlete as he recounts his astonishing feats of endurance Beyond the Horizon.

For the Writers

Looking to get a little something of your own published, mamas? The Emirati Literary Festival is looking after you, there are a number of great industry insiders holding workshops to help you out…

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Shortening the Odds – Inside Tips of a Literary Agent
When: 5 March, 11:00 -12:00
Where: Al Waha, Intercontinental Hotel
Cost: AED 200

Ever wanted to get your stuff published, mamas? Most great writing houses won’t even look twice at your manuscript unless you’ve got a good agent on your side. Luckily, top literary agent Caroline Sheldon is going to be giving a talk on how approach an agent if you’re looking to break into the bizz – particularly in how it relates to women’s fiction and children’s books. If you’re on the other side of the fence however and are interested in agenting, she’ll be discussing her work as well and to be honest you’ll want to listen: she does represent Julia Donaldson after all.

What Makes a Great Plot?
When: 5 March, 17:00-18:00
Where: Al Baraha 2, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 70

Ever heard of a little series called TinTin? Writer Jean van Hamme is a master of storytelling in all mediums: novels, films, TV scripts, cartoons and graphic novels, so he absolutely knows what makes a great plot. Learn from the master how to streamline your stories and make them stand out from the crowd. In French with Arabic and English translation.

Capturing Young Hearts – Writing For the Middle Grades (8-12 years)
When: 7 March, 16:00 – 17:00
Where: Al Khayma, InterContinental Hotel
Cost: AED 300

Got a children’s book in the works, mama? You may want to head over to Aussie writer Jesse Blackadder’s lecture to learn more about writing for young readers. Not only will she be sharing her own personal experiences as an award-winning writer, but she’ll also be sharing useful writing exercises and techniques to keep your stories on point.

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