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Shaikh Sultan opens Sharjah International Book Fair

Books by 920 publishers from 60 different countries available at 10-day long event

Sharjah: His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, on Wednesday opened the 31st Sharjah International Book Fair at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Countless books by more than 920 publishers from over 60 countries are available at the fair, running till November 17.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Shaikh Sultan said: “Despite the participation of hundreds of publishers and hundreds of thousands of valuable books in our fair this year, we should not ignore some of the challenges faced by the book and written material in general in these times.”

He was referring to the growing trend of social media and digital publishing in today’s world. 

“We believe that each has his own role and scope, and all of us as authors, publishers and intellectuals have to think of the best ways to maintain the balance of these roles and implement them quickly.”

In his speech, Shaikh Sultan added: “We believe that the publishing houses in the UAE and our region should keep up with this new revolution and innovate attractive ways to display “paper” books and “digital” books to encourage readers to buy books and read them in whichever way they prefer.”

He honoured several winners in the awards ceremony that followed the opening. The awards included the Etislat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, Cultural Personality of the Year, Best Local Publishing House Award, Best Emirati Author, Best UAE Printed Book about the UAE, among others.

Shaikh Sultan also launched the Arabic edition of his book The Myth of Arab Piracy in the Gulf, first published in English in 1989. It has also been published in Farsi.

Pakistan is the Country of Focus this round of book fair, with some 30 Pakistani publishers participating for the first time. Famous Pakistani authors and poets are also attending.

Other exhibitors include 22 Arab nations and 40 other foreign countries. 

Leading authors like Graffin Aslar, Robert Lacey, William Hamilton, and Arundhati Roy are also participating.

Seminars and workshops are included in the fair’s activities, covering a wide range of topics, from cookery, children’s reading, and citizen journalism.