Abu Dhabi International Book Fair's 30th Edition Concludes
ABU DHABI, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News / WAM - 05th Jun, 2021) Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) has concluded a successful 30th edition.
Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and managed by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, the fair took place between 23rd and 29th May at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Implementing the comprehensive precautionary measures for the safety of participants and visitors, this year’s edition of the fair was a hybrid event, combining on-ground and virtual programming, enabling publishers, industry professionals and literary fans in Abu Dhabi and all over the world to participate in the diverse sessions, either in person or remotely.
The fair’s return as a physical event saw an impressive footfall and registered a significant increase in book sales of more than 20 percent compared to the 2019 edition, which preceded the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saood Al Hosani, Under-Secretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, said, "Abu Dhabi International Book Fair’s successful return for its milestone 30th edition has reinforced Abu Dhabi’s status as a regional and international hub for culture and knowledge, as well as a world-class host of large-scale events. During the fair, we welcomed authors, academics, publishers and artists whose participation helped cultivate a vibrant cultural and literary moment that was unaffected by the ramifications of the pandemic."
Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, said, "At this year’s event we were pleased to unveil a series of important initiatives to bolster the sector following what has been a very challenging time. These were warmly received and are a testament to Abu Dhabi’s continuing commitment to supporting the cultural ecosystem in the emirate and beyond."
Mouza Al Shamsi, Acting Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre and Director of ADIBF, said: "Given recent global circumstances, we are beyond proud to have been able to host an in-person 30th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, and I would like to extend my thanks to all participants and visitors to the fair for their cooperation and diligence in observing the precautionary measures ensuring a safe, and successful event for all those involved. Above all, we are grateful to our frontline heroes who made it possible for us to host a cultural event of this scale."
This year’s fair was an incubator of new partnerships, to enrich Arabic-language content and celebrate Emirati culture and heritage.
Partnerships forged between leading local and international organisations included a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre and Brill publishers for the launch of a peer-reviewed Arab studies journal, "Al Markaz". Another MoU signed between the Arabic Language Centre and the Arab Youth Hub will facilitate the development of cultural projects and events supporting young Arabs.
The fair also witnessed the launch of two initiatives, "Emirati Treasures", which celebrates the UAE’s 50th anniversary later this year, and "Oyoon Al Nathr Al Araby" (Exploring Arab Prose), which promotes digital and audiobooks.
ADIBF 2021 saw the introduction of several initiatives aiming to bolster the publishing sector, starting with a directive issued by the fair’s patron, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to allocate AED6 million for purchasing a large collection of books, reference titles and educational resources to be distributed to government school libraries across the nation. The ADIBF also exempted exhibitors from all participation fees at this year’s edition.
Additionally, the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre significantly increased the number of grants issued through its annual "Spotlight on Rights" programme, from 40 to 300, and expanded its scope to include grants for audiobooks and ebooks.
A virtual ceremony to honour the winners of the 15th Sheikh Zayed Book Award was also held as part of the fair’s programme, while the winners were also featured in a panel discussion that highlighted their literary and cultural achievements.
In a live ceremony honouring the UAE’s frontline heroes, Dr. Omar Al Hammadi, Internal Medicine consultant and Deputy Chairman of the Emirates Society of Internal Medicine, spoke of the sacrifice of the country’s medical, healthcare and support workers.
Dr. Al Hammadi answered audience questions and addressed the reasons that conspiracy theories have run rampant during the pandemic, explaining in the process the lessons that world governments could learn from this crisis in preparation for any potential similar future events.
Several sessions took place at this year’s event on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cultural sector, and the ways the crisis has also motivated writers and artists to reach new heights of creativity. One session, "Pandemics & Civilisation", discussed the status of literature during the current pandemic, as well as shedding light on how historically, pandemics and global health emergencies have motivated people to use creativity as a coping mechanism in difficult times. Another session, "Humanities & Digitalities in a Post-Covid World", tackled such issues as communication and future foresight to predict the likely outcome of technological integration in society.
Addressing ongoing issues in the sector, the "Publishing in the Arab World" workshop brought together several prominent Arab publishers to discuss the industry’s problem with piracy, as well as publishers’ and writers’ rights.
Guest of Honour at the 2021 fair was the Federal Republic of Germany, which hosted several cultural and professional development events that highlighted the cultural ties between Germany and the Arab world.
The session "From Cinderella to Sinbad: German and Arab Timeless Tales" examined the influence of narratives from Ancient Egypt and other world civilisations on German folk literature, while a panel discussion titled "Germany and the Orient" explored German attitudes toward islam and the region classically referred to as the "Orient" throughout the years, starting from the Enlightenment era through to the modern-day.
Discussions also took place at the fair regarding the fierce competition in the publishing industry, and the best practices Arab publishers need to adopt after selling book rights in other countries and expanding into new markets.
German cultural and language centre Goethe-Institute was also present at the fair and concluded its participation with a lively discussion of the poetry slam scenes in Germany and the UAE, and the differences between them in terms of rules, topics, advantages and areas for improvement.
The fair also hosted a session which featured Hamad Al Kaabi, Editor-in-Chief of Emirati daily, Al Ittihad, in discussion with Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, Cultural Advisor to the UAE President, and Chancellor of United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), Saeed Mohamed Al Nazari, Director-General of the Federal Youth Authority, Ali Abdullah Al Ahmad, UAE Ambassador to France, and other cultural personalities to explore the journey of the UAE leading up to its Golden Jubilee year.
Another UAE anniversary session, "The 50th Year and the Road to the Future", included a viewing of a short historical film highlighting the nation’s progress through the last five decades and shedding light on its future ambitions. The session then discussed the UAE’s remarkably rapid development and the factors contributing to the country’s success.
In the session "New Archaeological Discoveries Unveil the UAE’s Rich History", Dr. Peter Magee, Director of the Zayed National Museum, discussed the country’s most recent archaeological findings. The renowned archaeologist also showcased his book, "Emirates: Our History", which is included in school curriculums across the nation, which explores ancient events in the land now known as the UAE.
Additionally, a session was hosted discussing the UAE’s scientific innovations in light of the momentous achievement of the "Hope Probe" to Mars, and its significance to the country’s capacity for leading space exploration in the future.
Another special session saw French writer Gilbert Sinoué, author of "Le Faucon" (The Falcon), discuss his body of work, which includes a unique literary biography of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan that details his exceptional life and career as one of the 20th century’s most important leaders.
The fair also hosted several prominent Arab and international translators in a session titled "The Art of Translation: My Words, Your Voice", which discussed translators’ ability to faithfully interpret text into a different language.
Finally, the fair celebrated the Arabic language’s diversity and rich vocabulary in a session titled "Arabic Language Without Borders", which included a thorough analysis of the future of Arabic in the face of severe linguistic, cultural and technical difficulties.
It was attended by Dr. bin Tamim, Dr. Hanada Taha, the Endowed Chair Professor of Arabic Language at Zayed University; Prof. Dr. Salah Fadl, President of the Arabic Language academy in Cairo, and Dr. Khalil Al Sheikh, Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at Jordan's Yarmouk University, who explored the myriad ways the language can be developed to meet innovations in many fields.