The fifth edition of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature  bringing more than 100 authors from 30 different countries to town for a fun and informative four-day event, which kicks off tonight.
A star-studded line-up is sure to keep bookworms and budding writers entertained and informed, with a series of fascinating talks and workshops covering a broad range of topics. There’s so much going on it could be quite easy to lose the plot.
But don’t fret, read on for our top picks at the event which takes place at the Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City :
There’s plenty on the cards to keep the old grey matter working. The inaugural ‘Wednesday Watani Debate’ for example brings together a group of experts to discuss the use of Arabic language  in the modern world - Wednesday from 11am at Al Ras 1.
Elsewhere, ‘World War Two – Still Impacting the Middle East’ (Friday, 5pm Al Ras 1) and ‘Which Afghanistan’ (Friday from 10am at Al Ras 1) bring together some big hitters to discuss complex situations. The annual Orwell Lecture, meanwhile, will see Dr Shashi Tharoor, the Minister of State for Human Resource Development in the Indian Government, explore the subject of ‘Globalisation, Disruption and the Human Imagination’. While Orwell envisaged a world in which free speech would be stifled, the lecture will look at the flipside of the coin, with the rise of social media and the internet - Saturday, from 11.30am at Al Ras 3
Learn from the best
Budding authors just love to get the dirt on writing and plotlines. This year, some huge names will be lifting the lid on their art. In ‘XO - Stalking the Stalker’, American crimewriter Jeffery Deaver  will explain how he came up with both a strong female hero and a complex male detective for his latest effort ‘XO’. The man behind recent James Bond story ‘Carte Blanche’, has drawn on his former career as a country singer for the new book so expect a touch of Nashville, Deaver style - Saturday from 5pm at Al Ras 3.
On Friday, popular Scottish author Ian Rankin will explain just how he built a career in crime that pays. Rankin, the brains behind a whole series of bestsellers, will discuss much-loved character Inspector Rebus and his latest ‘hero’ Detective Malcolm Fox, and how you can create heroes to match the larger-than-life villains -Driday from 5pm at Al Ras 3. Elsewhere, Russian writer Boris Akunin teams up with French author Maxime Chattam to discuss the ‘scene of the crime’ in fiction -Friday from 1:30 at Al Ras 1.
Stanzas in the sand
Poets from around the world including Simon Armitage, Roger McGough, Ben Okri, Sjon, Jeet Thayil, Adel Khozam and Nujoom Al Ghanem will perform their work under the stars in a special campsite at a new event called ‘Poetry Under the Stars: A Desert Dinner’. Wednesday, from 6pm at a Desert camp location. Coaches will leave the InterCon at 6pm sharp.
French maestro Pierre Gagnaire and seasoned Italian foodie Antonio Carluccio will both be presenting delicious literary lunches while celebrity chefs such as Ken Hom, Bobby Chinn and Rachel Allen will be showcasing some fantastic flavours in a series of culinary treats over the four days.
Local talent will be keeping the crowds entertained in the fun and free Penguin Fringe in Al Baraha 1A, at the Intercontinental Hotel, Festival City. Keep an eye and ear out for ‘poetry therapist’ Bahareh, pictured, while Dorian ‘Paul D’ Rogers will be offering tips on performing as well as sharing his own work. Third Half Theatre and Resuscitation Theatre will be putting on live performances while Dubomedy wil keep things lively with improv and Dave Crane is promising the best 45 minutes of your life. Sounds promising!