|Hanging out in one of the hotel bars|
Now, before weighing into the debate, I guess I should declare an interest of sorts. I went to the festival last year, and had a great time. The organisers treated us tremendously well; the other authors were fantastic company; and all in all, it was as good as a holiday. So - as per the photographic illustrations to this piece - I have some very good memories of and feelings about the festival which may well compromise my objectivity.
|Meeting a hawk in the desert|
|Young Bond author Steve Cole on a camel|
|Leaping about in the desert with Steve |
& photographer Lou Abercrombie
(there with her husband,
YA author Joe)
Now, if Murdoch or the Barclays tried to censor the festivals which which they're respectively associated, I think that would almost certainly be grounds for a boycott. As far as I know, they haven't. But as far as I know, there is no reason to believe that either Emirates Airline or the government of the UAE have tried to influence festival policy, let alone impose censorship.
|Lunching with Steve & illustrator|
extraordinaire David Tazzymen
I really don't want to downgrade the importance of the human rights argument. But Think Twice isn't calling for a boycott of every festival held in a territory with a poor human rights record; only this one. So I suppose my question is this: should the nature of their chief sponsor mean that Emirates Airline Festival of Literature should be held responsible for the UAE government's human rights record?
I'm not sure it should. The organisers are not connected with the government; they're simply book enthusiasts who have worked hard to get a literature festival off the ground, and who have sought sponsorship from a local company with a lot of money. And I'm not sure it seems fair to try to close down their festival as a way of protesting against the sponsor. If the boycott is successful, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be no more. Emirates Airline, and the UAE government, will continue exactly as before.
What do you think?
John's Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face series, illustrated by David Tazzyman, is published by OUP.