Shaikh Abdullah visited several pavilions after opening the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The 28th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) officially opened in the capital on Wednesday, with this year’s event returning bigger than ever with 500,000 books on display.

Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, the book fair was opened by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, who toured the book fair visiting several participating pavilions. The book fair runs until May 1 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and features 1,350 exhibitors from 63 countries. The weeklong event also features several daily activities for visitors including seminars, workshops, and the chance to meet and greet authors.

Since its launch, the book fair has become more than just a platform for publishers to network and sell their books, and has taken a larger significance mainly towards the promotion of cultural exchanges and dialogue thanks to the large number of different countries taking part.

“We are so thrilled to be able to participate in the ADIBF. This is a great initiative that promotes reading and books, which is so important for children because reading is instrumental in the lives of people,” said Charlotte Young Fadare, cultural affairs officer, US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, who was taking part as one of the official exhibitors.

“We have joined the children’s section of the book fair this year, introducing American classics and beloved children’s stories to Emirati and expats alike,” she added.

Fadare spoke positively on being able to share American culture through books.

“The cultural aspect behind events like these is really important and beneficial. You have so many different countries taking part, so it gives you a chance to share your own culture and also the opportunity to learn about others.

“A great way to learn about culture and different people is by reading a book — you find out about new ideas, and you get to learn about what kind of stories and themes are popular for that specific country. So even if someone doesn’t get the chance to visit the US, they can still get a connection through books,” she added.

Another exhibitor taking part in the book fair and hailing from China — Wisdom House — gives visitors the chance to learn about Chinese culture.

“Our books cover so many different topics related to China, including culture, history and politics. Our books have also been translated into Arabic making them accessible for Arabic speakers,” said Liu Na, who helps run the group’s education courses.

“One of our goals is to promote Chinese culture and stories, which is why we are participating in this book fair. Books are a great way to educate people, through education and understanding we can help build bridges between different countries and cultures, but it all starts with a book,” she added.

Another country also represented at the book fair with an official pavilion is Germany, featuring a range of different German books on display.

“Book fairs like these let us do two important things: it allows us to share German content and introduce German publishers to the Arab market, and equally important to that is that it helps us start a cultural dialogue,” said Claudia Kaiser, vice-president of Business Development for the Frankfurt Book Fair.

“Books are a good way for learning about someone else, and so when you have such a large book fair like this, you have an opportunity to share about your country,” she added.


What: Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Where: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre

When: April 25 to May 1

Timings: 9am to 10pm, Saturday to Thursday; 4pm to 10pm on Friday