Come January 31, Intercontinental Hotel in Dubai Festival City will see bibliophiles, authors and storytellers come together at the weeklong Emirates Literature Festival as it returns for its 16th edition in the city.
Considered the Middle East’s largest celebration of books and stories, Emirates Literature Festival also serves as an established platform for important conversations that will shape our tomorrow.
This year, the LitFest stage will showcase bestsellers, prize-winning authors, and thought leaders. From Eliza Reid, First Lady of Iceland to Deena Mohamed, Egyptian graphic novelist and illustrator, to father of the iPod and founder of Nest, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tony Fadell – author of Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making, are just some of the names that will participate in the event.
Conversations with headline makers
Whether it’s uncovering what it takes to make something as world-changing as the Apple iPod, the role that artificial intelligence (AI) may play in creativity, what successful leadership looks like today, or how to make businesses more sustainable, the Emirates Literature Festival promises riveting conversations and debates.
Among noted conversationalists scheduled to be at the event is Mustafa Alrawi, acting managing director at CNN Business Arabic and a columnist for The National who will moderate a conversation with Dherar Belhoul on his latest book which delves into the intricate dynamics that exists at the workplace. The book draws a parallel with the cat-and-mouse relationship and skewers our notions of workplace associations.
Tech journalist and author, Oliver Franklin Wallis will be in conversation with inventor and entrepreneur, Tony Fadell. Fadell has led the teams which designed two of the most disruptive products in modern history: the iPod and the iPhone. Since leaving Apple in 2008, he has authored over 300 patents, founded smart thermostat company Nest and started Build Collective, an investment and advisory firm through which he mentors the next generation of change-makers. His book, Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making, is an advice encyclopedia covering topics such as leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship. So catch him at the Emirates Literature Festival as shares insights from his own journey.
Additionally, Wallis, who is the author of Wasteland, will also host a conversation with Muna Al Kindi, innovation consultant at Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University. The two will discuss the opportunities and challenges society will face in the next chapter of the technological revolution.
One of the UAE’s pioneers – Colm McLoughlin, CEO of Dubai Duty Free, who is also credited with helping Dubai’s stratospheric rise to global prominence over the past few decades will join his biographer Graeme Wilson and Isobel Abulhoul to discuss his story – A Life Well Spent. From his childhood spent in Ireland to his current status as billionaire businessman and philanthropist, McLoughlin’s story is a testament to his infectious tenacity, generosity and eye for opportunity.
In the power-packed speaker line-up are three visionaries, each riding the wave of their own considerable success, come together for a wide-ranging discussion with Lucy Chow to dissect the contemporary and ever-evolving definitions of success and leadership and propose how you might redefine those terms for yourself. On the panel are – behavioral expert Thomas Erikson (Surrounded by Idiots), international businessman and motivational speaker Francis Kong (Leadership That Matters) and executive coach and Live Your Dream host Celina Lee.
Do the recent advancements of artificial intelligence spell the end of the creative industries as we know them – is the question Tamara Clarke will be asking two authors. Australia’s AI Institute represented by chief scientist Toby Walsh (Faking It: Artificial Intelligence in a Human World) and British author Andy Stanton, whose new book Benny the Blue Whale was written in collaboration with ChatGPT, will take to the stage to discuss how artificial intelligence might intersect with creativity and art, and what this means for humanity.
While the list does not end here, another headliner who will be taking to the stage to talk about her journey as an entrepreneur, designer, and author is footwear mogul Sophia Webster. Included in the ranks of Webster’s fashion empire are the likes of Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Gwen Stefani; even Michelle Obama is changing the world donning her heels. But Webster’s monumental rise from fledgling businesswoman and aspiring designer to industry mogul didn’t happen overnight. In Oh My Gosh, I Love Your Shoes!, she traces the challenges she overcame on her journey to success and lifts the curtain on the influences which have inspired her work.
Webster takes to the stage with Hafsa Lodi for a sweeping conversation about life and art, the power of fashion and the stories behind her most cherished designs.
Highlights of the literature festival
The opening gala will see acclaimed writers take readers on an imaginative journey, while Desert Stanzas – an evening of poetry and spoken word surrounded by dunes – makes a return on day two.
The following days will see luminaries like Booker Prize winner Paul Lynch, meditation expert Gelong Thubten and UAE astronauts Hazza Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi take to the stage for talks – from pop culture to psychology and AI to history.
Plus, there’s also a murder mystery dinner, a TikTok Book Award Ceremony and LitFest AfterHours, featuring loads of exciting activities for all ages.
Closing the festivities will be Emirati singer Rashed Alnuaimi live in concert.
Tickets for the festival, along with the full speaker lineup and programme details, are available online.