The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is celebrating the success of its 14th edition, which showed recovery from the pandemic and record numbers of competition entries. In total, more than 105,000 people engaged with the Festival, in person or through its virtual offering.
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 percent increase in 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 percent of all respondents are returning visitors, and out of these returning visitors, 20 percent have been to the festival ten times more.
The survey also revealed that 94 percent 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 is really 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 years. 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.”
A number of high-profile dignitaries graced the event.
Ticket sales increased by 184 percent year on year. Entries for the student competitions held firm, while the number of entries in the adult competitions grew by 62 percent, introducing 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, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.