Dubai, 24 August, 2015: The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has announced that, due to unprecedented author interest, the 2016 Festival will now take place over two weeks from 1-12 March. News of the expanded event was released by the organisers who also disclosed 12 more names of authors who will be appearing at the literary extravaganza.

‘It is fantastic news for Festival fans and a real testament to the success of the event,’ said Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. ‘The response from authors this year has really been incredible, so we felt we had no alternative but to expand the event from its traditional five-day slot to cover a whole two weeks in order to accommodate the wealth of bestselling writers, thinkers and speakers who want to come to Dubai. It means we have an exceptionally strong programme in store for our audience with authors of a very high calibre. Festival-goers can expect another world-class event which will be a major attraction for visitors across the region and further afield.’

The announcement comes on the heels of the Festival’s first-time move to release 12 author names every month till the official launch in October. The newest additions to the 2016 guest list include House of Cards author Michael Dobbs and 2015 IPAF-winner Shukri Al Mabkhout, two award-winning authors who will be visiting the Festival for the first time next year.

Tunisian-born Al Mabkhout’s writings have featured in journals across the world and his first novel The Italian won several literary prizes including the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. British politician, Michael Dobbs, has written a number of political thrillers but his name is most familiar for his novel House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey in the Emmy winning TV series.

The opportunity to see international award-winning poets, John Agard and Simon Armitage will delight the large number of poetry enthusiasts who flock annually to the Festival. Agard, a playwright, poet, short story and children’s writer, has a unique style, ably demonstrated in his famous poem Half Caste. Armitage, who was recently elected Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford, was named Millennium Poet in 1999.

Fans of Maha Gargash, Emirati documentary filmmaker and author of The Sandfish, will be thrilled to find out more about her new book – a family drama set in the Emirates. Saud AlSanousi, from Kuwait, and winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2013, returns with a new novel, Mama Hissa’s Mice.

There are likely to be many thought-provoking sessions at next year’s Festival with Chris Cleave and Ghada Karmi captivating all those attending their sessions. Cleave’s bestselling novels capture the experiences of ‘refugees, the bereaved and the embattled’, while Palestinian writer Karmi’s memoirs revolve around life in her home country.

Jenny Colgan is a versatile writer, stepping across genre boundaries with consummate skill. Her romantic comedy novels include Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery; she has also written a page-turning sci-fi novel, Resistance Is Futile, and, of course, Dr Who fans will be familiar with her work on the Dr. Who novel Dark Horizons. She will also be delighting younger readers at the Festival with her story of Polly and the Puffin.

Katie Hickman adds to the growing list of history and travel writers at the 2016 Festival. Her most recent works are the highly-acclaimed novels The Aviary Gate and The Pindar Diamond, part of a trilogy set in early 17th century Constantinople and Venice.

Linguistic expert David Crystal, author of more than 100 books on language, will enlighten audiences on the power of words and the richness of language, while Nick Arnold, celebrated writer of children’s science books Horrible Science and the Wild Lives series, will feature prominently in the children’s programme.

‘This eclectic mix of authors is exactly what we were looking for to top our 2015 Festival, which many consider to have been our finest,’ continued Abulhoul. ‘Our Festival-goers make all our efforts worthwhile, and we are doing our best to thank them for their steadfast support.’ Previously, the Festival organisers had shared the names of 24 authors, including Hoda Barakat, Ann Cleeves, Carol Ann Duffy, Ian Rankin and Youssef Ziedan. A final list of twelve authors will be released in September, a month prior to the grand launch of the complete authors list.

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