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Biography & Memoir

Genre: Biography & Memoir
Event 3 Floella Benjamin: Coming to England

Friday 2 March, 2pm-3pm   Al Ras 1, InterContinental

Actress, author, filmmaker and politician, Baroness Floella Benjamin, OBE became beloved by a generation as the presenter of the UK children’s programme Play School.

In this inspiring talk for children and adults, she revisits her childhood memoir Coming to England – recently republished in a beautifully illustrated 20th anniversary edition – and the journey she made as a youngster from Trinidad to embark on a very different life with her family in England in 1960.

Today, Floella is dedicated to supporting children, and her lessons in overcoming prejudice, embracing confidence and breaking barriers will captivate every generation.

Language: English

Age Group: 9+

Floella Benjamin: Coming to England

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Event 62 Zaki Nusseibeh: Memories of Zayed

Saturday 3 March, 7.30pm-8.30pm   Al Ras 1, InterContinental

The year 2018 has been proclaimed the ‘Year of Zayed’ to mark 100 years since the birth of the country’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

In this special session, Sheikh Zayed’s former interpreter and advisor Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh - recently appointed Minister of State - speaks about Zayed’s legacy and his continuing importance to the UAE and its people.

This is a chance to learn more about one of the defining figures of recent Middle Eastern history, from one of his closest friends and advisors.

Language: English with Arabic translation
Sign language interpretation is available in this session

Zaki Nusseibeh: Memories of Zayed

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Event 67 Lion: Screening and Talk with Saroo Brierley

Wednesday 7 March, 7.30pm-10pm   Screen 5, Novo Cinemas, Dubai Festival City

When Saroo Brierley was just five years old, he got lost after boarding a train without his family and ended up living alone on the streets of Calcutta, far from a hometown he couldn’t name. Years later, living in Australia, he began a search that would change his life.

The book A Long Way Home is the story of that search and his reunion with his birth mother. A bestseller in Australia, the book gained global fame when it was adapted as the BAFTA-winning film Lion, starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara.

This screening, held in partnership with Dubai International Film Festival, is preceded by a talk by Saroo on the story behind the film and the new book he is currently writing – a ‘prequel’ about his adoptive and birth mothers in Australia and India.

Saroo will be in conversation with Julia Wheeler.

Language: English

Lion: Screening and Talk with Saroo Brierley

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Event 99 Mohammed Hasan Alwan: A Small Death

Thursday 8 March, 6.30pm-7.30pm   Al Ras 1, InterContinental

Mohammed Hasan Alwan won the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction for A Small Death, a historical fiction novel about the great Sufi scholar Ibn Arabi.

Following Ibn Arabi on his extensive travels through the 12th Century Islamic world, A Small Death examines the evolution of one of the best known Arab scholars of all time against the backdrop of a colourful but tumultuous period of history, full of details of the traditions of the cities he visited and the insights this gave him into the human soul.

In this session Alwan will discuss this powerful book and what he learned while writing it.

Mohammed will be in conversation with Bilal Orfali.

Language: Arabic with English translation

Mohammed Hasan Alwan: A Small Death

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Event 75 Robert McCrum: Every Third Thought

Friday 9 March, 10am-11am   Al Khayma, InterContinental

Authors: Robert McCrum
Is it possible to make peace with death?

Writer and critic Robert McCrum’s first brush with death came with a stroke at the age of 42, which left him unavoidably aware of his own mortality. His book My Year Off, an account of his recovery, has proved invaluable to patients, doctors and nurses in the years since.

In his new book Every Third Thought, a Radio 4 Book of the Week, he takes readers on a journey accompanied by some of his favourite authors who share their own wisdom on death and how to face it.

Robert will be in conversation with Lea Sellers.

Language: English

Robert McCrum: Every Third Thought

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Event 136 Leadership Lessons from Dubai: Rakesh Wahi & Tommy Weir

Friday 9 March, 10am-11am   Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

What leadership lessons does Dubai have for the world?

Two authorities on business leadership discuss what it takes to succeed in a complex, competitive and fast-moving world.

Rakesh Wahi is a distinguished serial entrepreneur, chairman of CMA Investment Holdings, co-founder of ABN Group and co-founder of Trans National Education. His autobiography Be a Lion invites readers to live fearlessly.

Dr Tommy Weir is one of the foremost authorities on leadership in emerging markets. He has helped more than 3,000 executives reach peak performance and his book Leadership Dubai Style was a finalist in the 2016 International Book Awards.

This panel is moderated by Eithne Treanor.

Language: English

Leadership Lessons from Dubai: Rakesh Wahi & Tommy Weir

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Event 92 Andrew Morton: Diana and Wallis, Royal Mavericks

Friday 9 March, 12pm-1pm   Al Ras 1, InterContinental

Authors: Andrew Morton
In 1992, Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story shocked the British public and establishment alike. More than 25 years on, the revised edition of the book continues to create headlines.

Morton’s new book, Wallis in Love, looks at an earlier ‘scandalous’ royal – the well-connected social climber Wallis Simpson, who upended the British monarchy when Edward VIII abdicated so they could marry.

An expert on the history of the House of Windsor and the tangled lives of the British royals, Andrew sheds light on these two influential women – and reflects on how times have changed for women marrying into royalty as he writes his next book, Meghan: A Hollywood Princess.

Andrew will be in conversation with Lea Sellers.

Language: English

Andrew Morton: Diana and Wallis, Royal Mavericks

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Event 85 Souad Mekhennet: I Was Told to Come Alone

Friday 9 March, 2pm-3pm   Al Ras 1, InterContinental

Souad Mekhennet, recipient of the 2017 Chicago Journalists Association Daniel Pearl Award, is one of the most important investigative journalists working today, and unquestionably one of the bravest. Her memoir I Was Told to Come Alone – longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize and soon to be adapted as a TV series – follows her journey from her home country of Germany, across the Middle East and North Africa in search of extremists, and back to Europe where she uncovered the identity of ‘Jihadi John’, the ISIS executioner whose English accent made him a symbol of radicalisation among young westerners.

Hear first-hand about her quest to get into the minds of young jihadis, in the hope of understanding what leads them to violence.

Souad will be in conversation with Lea Sellers.

Language: English with Arabic translation

Souad Mekhennet: I Was Told to Come Alone

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Event 96 Cheryl Strayed: Wild

Friday 9 March, 6pm-7pm   Al Ras 3, InterContinental

Cheryl Strayed’s life fell apart when she was 22. With nothing to lose, she packed an oversized backpack she called Monster and set off to walk the Pacific Crest Trail – 1000 miles of the American West’s extraordinary wilderness, from deserts to snow-capped mountains.

Her battle with the physical challenges of the trail and the grief that haunted her led her to write the acclaimed memoir Wild, which became the focus of Oprah’s Book Club and was adapted as a feature film starring Reese Witherspoon.

Join Cheryl as she relives that life-changing journey and shares the stories behind her other books, including the inspiring collection of quotes Brave Enough and her novel Torch.

Cheryl will be in conversation with Brandy Scott.

Language: English

Cheryl Strayed: Wild

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Event 103 My Stir-Fried Life: Dinner with Ken Hom

Friday 9 March, 7.30pm-9.30pm   Al Baraha 3, InterContinental

Authors: Ken Hom
Ken Hom is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest authorities on Asian cooking. His wildly popular books have inspired millions of home cooks, and he paved the way for a generation of celebrity chefs.

His autobiography My Stir-Fried Life tells the inspirational story of his rise from childhood work in his uncle’s restaurant in Chicago to international stardom. It also features a number of his favourite recipes, which will be served in a delicious three course dinner after the talk.

Ken will be in conversation with Tom Urquhart.

Dress code: smart casual

Guests will be seated at tables of 8 to 10.

Language: English

My Stir-Fried Life: Dinner with Ken Hom

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Event 105 Hiding from History: Souad Mekhennet & Andrew Morton

Saturday 10 March, 10am-11am   Al Ras 2, InterContinental

What happens when nations try to bury past evils? Even as Germany entered an ongoing period of self-examination about the crimes of the Nazis, Allied governments and armed forces chose to look away. Two authors who have explored this strange twist of history discuss the ongoing consequences.

Souad Mekhennet made her name getting inside the heads of jihadis, but she is also the co-author of The Eternal Nazi, an account of the hunt for Aribert Heim, a war criminal who escaped justice for a new life in hiding in Cairo.

In his book 17 Carnations, Andrew Morton explores the questionable allegiances of Edward VIII, the abdicated monarch whose open admiration for Hitler and the Nazis was covered up by the British government.

This panel is moderated by Bilal Orfali.

Language: English with Arabic translation

Hiding from History: Souad Mekhennet & Andrew Morton

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Event 119 Arun Gandhi: The Gift of Anger

Saturday 10 March, 12pm-1pm   Al Ras 3, InterContinental

Authors: Arun Gandhi
‘Anger is just like electricity…’

70 years on from the death of Mahatma Gandhi, his grandson Arun joins us to share personal stories about his beloved ‘Bapuji’, revealing a rare insight into the man behind the icon. In The Gift of Anger Arun Gandhi shares ten lessons from his grandfather, learned during the two years he lived in Mahatma Gandhi’s Sevagram ashram.

A major advocate of nonviolence, Arun learned from his grandfather to harness his anger to bring about good. In this session he discusses how to find the energy to fight for justice and how to use anger to motivate and organise while staying true to the principle of nonviolence.

Arun will be in conversation with Christopher Bradley.

Language: English

Arun Gandhi: The Gift of Anger

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Event 118 Giants of the Golden Age: Mohammed Hasan Alwan & Robert Irwin

Saturday 10 March, 2pm-3.15pm   Al Ras 2, InterContinental

The explorers and scholars of the Islamic Golden Age were larger-than-life figures who invented much of the modern world. Two authors who have been inspired by their accomplishments discuss the legacy of two of these extraordinary people.

Mohammed Hasan Alwan is the author of A Small Death, a novel about the great Sufi scholar Ibn Arabi, who travelled the Islamic world and authored as many as 800 works. The novel brings to vivid life the diverse world Ibn Arabi inhabited.

Robert Irwin recently finished a book on the pioneering philosopher of history and historian Ibn Khaldun, whose extensive writings offer modern readers a valuable insight into a dynamic and sometimes alien earlier age.

This panel is moderated by Bilal Orfali.

Language: Arabic & English with translation

Giants of the Golden Age: Mohammed Hasan Alwan & Robert Irwin

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Event 137 Levison Wood: Hitchhiking the Silk Road

Saturday 10 March, 2pm-3pm   Al Baraha 3, InterContinental

Authors: Levison Wood
Bestselling author, explorer and photographer Levison Wood takes us on an epic journey across continents. In his new book Eastern Horizons: Hitchhiking the Silk Road, he recounts his shoestring budget journey from England to India and the eccentric (and occasionally dangerous) characters he encountered on the way. And for his next book, he’ll be mounting his most complex expedition yet, travelling around the Arabian Peninsula.

The winner of the 2016 Edward Stanford Adventure Travel Book Of The Year Award, Wood is a gripping speaker who has stories of adventures on five continents and whose busy schedule encompasses everything from filmmaking to saving elephants.

Levison will be in conversation with Paul Blezard.

Language: English

Levison Wood: Hitchhiking the Silk Road

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Event 43 Adrian Hayes: K2 – The Tragedy and the Triumph Book Launch

Saturday 10 March, 4pm-5pm   Al Baraha 1, InterContinental

Authors: Adrian Hayes
In K2: The Tragedy and the Triumph, record-breaking adventurer Adrian Hayes recounts his tragic failure and fortunate success in climbing the world’s notorious second highest mountain.

Launched in this session, K2 is an absorbing and self-reflective book that examines both the dangerous physical journey of climbing the ‘Savage Mountain’ and the inner journey Adrian took during the tumultuous years of his attempts.

Don’t miss this stunning book and talk from an internationally acclaimed speaker, coach and campaigner about, arguably, his most accomplished achievement, the enlightenment he gleaned in doing so and the compelling lessons for all of us down in the world below.

Adrian will be in conversation with David Macadam.

Language: English

Adrian Hayes: K2 – The Tragedy and the Triumph Book Launch

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Event 124 From Memoir to Movie: Saroo Brierley & Cheryl Strayed

Saturday 10 March, 4pm-5pm   Al Baraha 2, InterContinental

What’s it like to see your life unfold on the big screen?

Authors Saroo Brierley and Cheryl Strayed know, having seen their bestselling memoirs adapted as major motion pictures. Together they discuss the excitement and stress of seeing their deeply personal stories retold by movie studios and released to a whole new audience.

Saroo Brierley is the author of A Long Way Home, the tale of his search for his birth family which became the BAFTA-winning movie Lion starring Dev Patel.

Cheryl Strayed is the author of Wild, an account of her journey of self-discovery on the Pacific Crest Trail, adapted as an Oscar-nominated film starring Reese Witherspoon.

This panel is moderated by Julia Wheeler.

Language: English

From Memoir to Movie: Saroo Brierley & Cheryl Strayed

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