SIBF Attracts More Than 1,566 Publishing Houses, Hosts Nobel, Booker Laureates

SIBF attracts more than 1,566 publishing houses, hosts Nobel, booker laureates

SHARJAH, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News / WAM - 13th Oct, 2021) With Nobel and Booker laureates, screenwriters of leading 21st-century shows, renowned authors, illustrators and creatives from around the world, the 40th annual Sharjah International Book Fair will be star-studded. Taking place for 11 days from November 3 – 13 at Expo Centre Sharjah, the milestone edition will also bring 1,566 publishers from 83 countries along with millions of titles under its roof.

Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), the entity that has been leading regional efforts to enable the publishing industry to chart its post-pandemic recovery and continuity, SIBF 2021 will be welcoming 85 writers and intellectuals who will lead the fair’s 970 events and activities including literary discussions, workshops, seminars, cultural shows, concerts, theatre, and more, under the theme ‘There’s always a right book’, inspired by SBA’s international campaign ‘Into Books’, which has been making waves around the globe since its global unveiling this August.

The full programme agenda of the 40th edition of the globally-anticipated book fair was detailed at a well-attended press conference organised by SBA at House of Wisdom on Wednesday. Among prominent attendees were Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA; Inigo de Palacio, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to the UAE; Mohammed Hassan Khalaf, Director General of Sharjah Broadcasting Authority; Brig. General Dr Ahmed Saeed Al Naour, Director-General of Central Operations, Sharjah Police; Abdul Aziz Taryam, CEO Adviser and General Manager, Northern Emirates, Etisalat; and Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SIBF.

In his keynote address, Ahmed Al Ameri said: "Over the past 40 years, we have imbibed several key lessons from the vision and efforts of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, on the emirate’s cultural project. The most important among these are: every achievement and every change we strive for starts in the pages of a book; every discussion we begin and even the understanding of our history starts with a book."

He added: "The 40th edition of SIBF is a remarkable cultural milestone for Sharjah and the UAE, through which we want to continue driving our efforts to promote the growth and post-pandemic recovery of the global publishing industry. SIBF 2021 will serve as a catalyst for new readers and a key player in transforming the industry to meet their needs. At the same time, the book fair will offer a platform for authors and researchers to broaden their areas of interest."

Noting that his address was a tribute to SIBF, Inigo de Palacio, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to the UAE, said: "The Sharjah International Book Fair is the most relevant Bookfair in the Arab region. I’ve been informed that more than 77 countries participated in the 2019 edition, which welcomed over 2 million visitors. This is outstanding! These numbers are a testimony to the cultural vision and leadership of H.H. the Ruler of Sharjah."

Palacio thanked Sharjah for accepting LIBER Book Fair 2019’s invitation to be Guest of Honour (GoH) and said, "Spain is reciprocating Sharjah’s generosity by coming to SIBF 2021 as a guest of honour."

"A highlight of Spain’s guest of honour programme is a high-level visit by our Minister of Culture and sports. Following SBA’s recent visit to Madrid, this new opportunity will be a significant milestone in Emirati–Spanish cooperation. Through our participation in SIBF 2021, we will be proudly representing not just Spain, but a community of more than 560 million people worldwide," he continued.

The ambassador highlighted those culinary demonstrations to musical concerts including the 'La Caramba' will be part of Spain’s rich GoH programme, which will span 25 activities in total led by 41 guests. A panel discussion on scriptwriting by the screenwriters of the hit Netflix series "Money Heist" (La Casa de Papel), Javier Gómez and Diego Avalos, and illustrators of children’s and young adult literature will host workshops. Authors and publishers will be the real protagonists of the programme who will be discussing the importance of translations among other key topics to highlight the shared legacy of Spanish and Arab cultures.

SIBF 2021 brings together 929 Arab and 637 international publishers showcasing millions of titles across a 10,000sqm area. This year, Egypt is represented by 295 publishers, followed by 250 from the UAE, 138 from the UK, 112 from Lebanon, 93 from Syria and 76 from Jordan.

India leads international participation with 87 publishers, while 48 are coming in from the US, 26 from Italy, 16 each from Canada and Brazil, 14 from Spain, and 12 each from Mexico and France. Nine countries will debut in SIBF, including Colombia, South Sudan, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

SIBF 2021 will host Kuwaiti journalist and writer Taleb al-Refai as a cultural personality of the year to honour his rich contributions to Arabic literature through his novels, short stories, literary criticisms, as well as his role in reviving the Gulf region’s literature and building bridges between Arab and Western cultures for over three decades.

The richness and diversity of global literature and culture will be represented by Tanzanian novelist and the winner of the Nobel prize in Literature 2021 marking his first international participation after winning the prestigious award, Abdulrazak Gurnah; Chris Gardner; writer Yasmina Khadra; Amitav Ghosh; Chetan Bhagat; and the young inventor Gitanjali Rao from America.

SIBF 2021 is organising 355 activities, shows and workshops for children this year, which will be led by professionals and experts from 9 countries. In addition, the 11-day fair will feature an outdoor exhibition from Canada titled ‘A Nomadic Heart’, which is dedicated to celebrating the literary experiences of the Haitian-Canadian novelist Dany Laferrière and includes 7 interactive shows based on 3 of his novels.

In line with its strict health and safety framework, the book fair will be open once again for school and university visits throughout its 11-day duration.

SIBF 2021 visitor capacity protocol is that the numbers will be capped at 80 percent of the venue’s full capacity. Schools that wish to schedule a visit need to pre-register at the following link: SIBF 2021 will stage 80 awe-inspiring theatrical and dance performances as well as musicals in which artists and performing groups from 9 countries will participate. Key theatre shows include ‘The Rabbits’, featuring Bader Al Shuaibi, Faher Al Benai, Hanadi Al Kandari, Fahd Saleh, Ghrour Safr and Ahmed bin Hussein.

A total of 11 workshops at SIBFs popular Social Media Station will cover topics including social media trends, creative content and other issues during the book fair. Notable guests leading the activities include Amr Maskoun, Mohamed Tarek and Hadeel Marei.

Food lovers are in for a new culinary journey with 10 chefs and experts from 9 countries who will lead 35 activities throughout SIBF 2021. Notable participants include Korean-American chef Judy Joo, Malaysian chef Sherson Lian, Indian chef Kunal Kapur, and Lebanese Lina Saad.

The Illustrators Survival Corner, a project by Bologna Children's Book Fair curated by Mimaster Illustrazione, will hold 3 hands-on workshops and master classes for aspiring illustrators, designers and art directors who will be taught to use image design and creativity tools learn international best practices and will benefit from professional portfolio reviews.

200 librarians and experts from 20 countries along with 17 speakers from 10 countries will convene at the 8th edition of the Sharjah International library Conference (SILC). Held in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA) from November 9-11, the conference will take place in a hybrid format. An international group of librarians and experts will lead the conference discussions, which will centre around new trends and technologies, establishing collaborations and networks, enhancing leadership skills, and developing and promoting new services for their respective communities.

More than 520 publishing professionals, agents and authors, and 35 speakers will take part in the 11th SIBF Publishers Conference, taking place at Expo Centre Sharjah from October 31 - November 2. The three-day event will host 8-panel discussions on the key issues and challenges facing the publishing sector in the region and around the world. Participating publishers will get the opportunity to apply for the US$300,000 SIBF Translation Grant. The hugely popular ‘Matchmaking’ sessions will be held on all three days of the conference for the convenience of publishers and industry professionals to discuss buying and selling of rights and strike new deals, especially in the Arab market.

A brand-new feature of the SIBF programme, a two-day National Libraries Summit, will be organised at the SBA headquarters in Sharjah on November 8–9. The theme of the summit is ‘Attend, Interact and Influence’ and will be attended by 60 participants from 20 counties and 20 national libraries from around the world who will be engaging in several discussions and four networking meetings.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, SBA will launch Sharjah International Book Fair Smart App compatible with both Android and iOS devices. The app will allow users to view the entire activities roster, view participating publishers and titles available and plan journeys by setting personalised notifications for upcoming activities.

Partners and patrons renew commitment to the success of the 40th edition of SIBF Brig. General Dr Ahmed Saeed Al Naour, Director-General of Central Operations, Sharjah Police, noted: "We are working committedly to translate the national security strategy of our wise leadership. His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah is keen on reinforcing the emirate’s status as a hub for civilisational enlightenment by attracting the most brilliant intellectual minds here. As we recover from the global pandemic, Sharjah Police promises to protect and safeguard the book fair and its visitors from the beginning until the very end."

Mohammed Hassan Khalaf, Director General of Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, said: "The Sharjah Broadcasting Authority has a clear vision based on the directives of the Ruler of Sharjah that media is machinery for positive change. We work in partnership with entities like SBA to make the emirate’s projects a success. Let’s congratulate all Emiratis and readers worldwide on the occasion of the 40th edition of SIBF, which has transcended its role as a book fair to become a cultural representation of Sharjah and the UAE – a message from the UAE and the Arab nation, which believes in the intrinsic value of books in offering a foundation for advancement."

He added that three channels and studios of the SBA will dedicatedly broadcast the book fair’s 11-day activities and events comprehensively via 14 programmes. Apart from this, there will be live coverage and reporting on SIBF 2021 by the authority daily in addition to author interviews, games, competitions, and more.

For his part, Abdul Aziz Hamad Taryam, CEO Adviser and General Manager, Northern Emirates, Etisalat, said: "With the 40th edition of SIBF, Sharjah renews its commitment to extend and strengthen bridges of communication with other cultures of the world. This edition coincides with the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s formation and reinforces the nation’s aspirations to provide an environment that promotes our culture as well as leading cultural innovation. At Etisalat, we are honoured to offer our patronage to the book fair once again. Our continued support to this key event reflects our commitment to promoting reading and holistic cultural development in the UAE society."

Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SIBF, said: "The thought behind selecting this edition’s theme for SIBF 'There is always a right book', was that the messages we sent out to the world with our recent global campaign ‘Into Books’, will find its way to realisation as every SIBF 2021 visitor finds a book to fuel their interests and passions."

Strict health and safety protocols will be adhered to throughout the 11-day event.