Middle East

Controversy at Emirates Lit Festival

Before any big museums open, visitors to the United Arab Emirates can still steal away from the mall to get a dose of culture. The inaugural Emirates Airline International Literary Festival will take place in the UAE at the end of February. Sixty writers from around the world will appear at the 4-day festival -- but there's already controversy brewing. British author Geraldine Bedell has been barred from the conference because a minor character in her new book, The Gulf Between Us, is gay. The festival director claimed the book was banned simply because of the cultural gulf between east and west. “I have lived in Dubai for 40 years, and based on my knowledge of who would appeal to the book-reading community in the Middle East, and having read 150 pages of Ms Bedell's manuscript, I knew that her work could offend certain cultural sensitivities,” she said.