The 14th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has opened in Dubai.
Taking place at its new canal-side venue, the Habtoor City Hotel, the festival is the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab world.
British comedian and international children's author David Walliams was one of the big draws for this year's event. The ‘Gangsta Granny’ and ‘Mega Monster’ writer told Euronews, “It's wonderful to be invited to a book festival because you get to meet lots of fellow authors and also lots of readers, and I think the books, well it's quite a special connection you have with your readers.”
This years’ event also celebrates what would have been Charles Dickens’ 210th birthday. His great-great-great granddaughter Lucinda Dickens-Hawksley, herself an author, hosted a series of sessions.
“One of the things that I love about literary festivals is that it does bring people together from all walks of life and from all parts of the world. And in the last two years we have seen how insular people become when they're not allowed to travel,” Lucinda said.
She added that her famous relative would have enjoyed this particular festival. “Dickens would have really adored this. He was one of the first people to go on a kind of modern book tour. He was often seen as the first modern author because he went off to America and Canada. He travelled around Italy and he talked about his books.”
The festival attracts a host of international and local literary talent. Emirati author and illustrator, Maitha Al Khayat, told Euronews about her contribution to cultural understanding. “I think when we write stories about our culture, it just shows you who you are and where you've come from. And I think that's really important,” she said before joking, “We've got so many amazing stories up our sleeves and underneath our abayas. we're just bursting with so many stories. We want to share them with the world and this is the perfect place for it.”