Once again I enjoyed the sessions at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and the sessions today were more than inspiring. Packed with a programme of literary treats this year, the festival will run for almost two weeks from until 12 March.

We have access to more than 150 writers, poets, illustrators and thinkers will present a dazzling array of genres, topics and subjects, appealing to audiences of all ages and tastes. This morning I enjoyed the session with Julia Johnson on Animals Galore.

It was also great to hear her speak about the Rhino Revolution and awareness on endangered species and how kids and schools can get involved to create awareness of animal cruelty.

Having a child who reads all the time and yet wishes she had more time to read, we naturally camp at the festival for the duration. It is great place for parents and children to connect and meet with authors.

The Festival’s strong education-focused programme allows students and youngsters in the UAE and the Gulf region to meet their favourite authors during the ever popular Education Days and the brand new Student Sessions.

These are held at the home of the Festival, the InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City as well as in numerous locations in Dubai and additionally, many authors will be visiting schools and colleges to meet and interact with students.

For the first time the Festival will be hosting Poetry Live! GCSE Poetry Day, an international session where poets interact with the students who study their work as part of the GCSE curriculum. The event this Wednesday will feature UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, John Agard, Simon Armitage, Imtiaz Dharker and Grace Nichols and has already proved to be immensely popular among schools.

This year is Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary and Steven Berkoff, renowned screen and theatre personality, will be bringing his critically-acclaimed play, Shakespeare’s Villains, to the UAE for the first time, and thespians Meera Syal, and Robert Lindsay known for their versatile TV roles, but also for their work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, will be paying tribute to the Bard.

The Sonnet Exchange is an international project celebrating Shakespeare’s poetry and the Festival will feature award-winning contemporary poets Imtiaz Dharker and Khalid Albudoor who will be performing their poetic responses inspired by the Bard’s sonnets. In addition to these, students can also enjoy Shakespeare screenings and talks by thespian Fiona Lindsay, brought to the Festival by Digital Theatre.

Today I’m also looking forward to seeing Astronaut Chris Hadfield who will be talking about his experiences in space and the honour of commanding the Canadian arm of the International Space Station. A panel of UAE Mars Mission members will also be discussing their efforts to launch a probe in commemoration of the UAE’s 50th anniversary.

The science of health is also one of the themes of the 2016 Festival, resonating with the UAE Ministry of Health’s new policy, with its’ emphasis on prevention. The Diet Myth author Tim Spector will delve into the destiny of our genes and the theories behind Epigenetics (the study of how external forces alter the characteristics of genes), while Baroness Susan Greenfield unlocks the potential of the brain with her latest book, A Day in the Life of the Brain: Consciousness from Dawn ‘till Dusk, and Reasons to Stay Alive author Matt Haig, tells us his first-hand experience of dealing with depression,

For those looking for tips on holistic living, the on-line sensation Joe Wicks, known as The Body Coach, can help you get fit in 15 minutes. And let’s not forget about the importance of feeding children correctly. Mumpreneur Annabel Karmel discusses work-life balance and the nutritional value of your toddler’s meals.

All information about the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is on-line. Check for updates at http://www.emirateslitfest.com. Join us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/emirateslitfest), Twitter (www.twitter.com/emirateslitfest), Instagram (http://instagram.com/EmiratesLitFest) and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/EmiratesLitFest) for competitions and more updates.

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