Complete List Of Special Events At Emirates Lit Fest

Jan 28,2020

This year, the Festival’s opening event is Desert Stanzas, an atmospheric night of cultural entertainment. The stripped back performance that takes place among sand dunes under a star-lit sky, celebrating international and homegrown poetry performed in the language in which it was written. The desert camp is accessible to all, a short drive from the city, and the enchanting experience is completed with the addition of music and traditional food.

A three-course dinner with a side order of dastardly deeds and murder is on the menu the following night. Audiences can enter the world of assassins and find out how author Luke Jennings devised the characters that have taken the world by storm in the Emmy-nominated TV series Killing Eve, starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. The Festival’s Murder Mystery Dinner is always one of the highlights, and ticket sales show Dubai has an appetite for out-smarting Jennings’ spine-tingling psychopath and solving the mystery of a murder and an enigmatic assassin.  

Inspired by the climate crisis, animal welfare and health concerns, the demand for exciting and satisfying vegan food keeps growing. YouTube sensations Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, aka BOSH! will share how to live the good vegan life. See BOSH! in action as they demonstrate how to prepare their favourite dishes, hear them speak frankly about the ideas in their latest book How to Live Vegan, while enjoying a delicious three-course vegan meal.

This year’s closing event is an exceptional night of music, poetry and readings in support of Dubai Cares’ programmes for child refugees across the region. Encompassing the best of the Festival, it will feature an inspiring selection of performances from this year’s poets and writers and feature the stunning operetta, Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo composed to celebrate the extraordinary story of refugee Nujeen Mustafa, who will take part in the evening. All proceeds will go to Dubai Cares and tickets are priced from AED 99 to AED 799.

Big names taking part in the Festival Finale include: 

  • Bettany Hughes; Historian, writer and TV presenter.
  • Cecilia McDowall; award-winning Oxford composer whose distinctive style speaks directly to listeners, instrumentalists and singers alike.
  • Chris Read; award-winning jazz musician and songwriter.
  • Farah Chamma; Dubai-born Palestinian writer and performer whose work is mainly focused on multilingual poetry performances.
  • Harry Baker; World Poetry Slam Champion.
  • Hazzaa AlMansoori; the first Emirati to travel to space.
  • Kevin Crossley-Holland (pictured above); prize-winning poet who has worked with acclaimed composers, including Cecilia McDowall with The Girl from Aleppo.
  • Markus Zusak; the international bestselling author of six novels, including The Book Thief.
  • Nujeen Mustafa; the inspiration for The Girl From Aleppo. Aged 16, with her sister, Nujeen braved inconceivable odds to travel in her wheelchair from Syria in search of a new life.
  • Onjali Q. Raúf; author of novel The Boy at the Back of the Class, a story inspired by a Syrian mother and baby she met in a Calais refugee camp which portrays the refugee crisis through the eyes of a child.
  • Ziauddin and Toor Pekai Yousafzai; best known as the parents of Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

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. 

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.


To buy tickets and for the full list of authors, visit