Sharjah Book fair
Viewed as a cultural hub of the region, Sharjah has a formidable reputation as a literary nerve centre Image Credit: Ador Bustamante/Gulf News

The Sharjah International Book Fair, one of the most anticipated events on the UAE’s cultural calendar, returns on Wednesday with even bigger space, more books, more events and expectedly more visitors than ever — bigger even than pre-Covid-19 days.

The fair, which will run from November 3 to 13 at the Expo Centre Sharjah, is held this year under the theme of ‘There’s always a right book’, with more than 15 million books and hundreds of events in the presence of cultural and literature icons — Nobel and Booker laureates, prominent authors and screenwriters from around the world.

Last year’s show, which was held in-person as the coronavirus pandemic waned, was an exceptional success in both the literal and figurative sense. It was a resounding success in the number of exhibitors and visitors who defied the then prevailing Covid-19 scare. It was also a success in its clear message that life will go on despite the pandemic challenge when almost all cultural events were either cancelled or held virtually around the world.

A pleasant experience for all

There will certainly be the usual precautionary measures in place including the face mask rule to ensure the safety of guests and participants in the fair. With these measures and the success of the country in winning the fight against the virus, this year’s book fair is expected to be a pleasant experience for all.

This is the message that Sharjah, under the guidance of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, is sending out. Sheikh Sultan’s efforts in the past five decades have made the emirate a cultural hub in this part of the world.

Sharjah’s name has become synonymous worldwide with culture and books. Today, the Sharjah International Book Fair is the third-largest book fair in the world, cited in the same conversations as those in New York, London and Frankfurt.

These efforts have thus made it natural for Sharjah to host such a high profile event, with hundreds of thousands of visitors expected, in such extraordinary circumstances. Last year’s smooth experience proved that the love of books rises above even the toughest of times.

With the advent of digital publication, we are grateful to Sharjah for this 10-day journey into the dazzling universe of the written word. And we are glad, and proud, that the Sharjah Book Fair is being held despite these challenging circumstances.