With the Covid-19 pandemic engulfing the whole world, the Sharjah International Book Fair 2020 has thrown open its doors – albeit in a hybrid format. The 39th edition of the globally renowned book fair started on Wednesday at the Expo Centre Sharjah.
The attendance in the past two days has exceeded the expectations. With the coronavirus second wave in full throttle around the world, it was thought that people might be a bit reluctant to visit a literary exhibition. However, assured by sound health precautions, book lovers have been thronging the fair by the thousands.
The festival organisers have taken all precautions to keep it a safe and intellectually stimulating event. Strict precautionary measures are in place to ensure the safety of participants and visitors to the fair. Measures like thermal scanners and walk-through sanitisation gates have been installed at all access and exit points. Volunteers ensure that everyone is masked up while social distance is maintained.
Putting together the book fair, the third largest in the world, in these extremely challenging circumstances is a testament to the UAE and Sharjah’s resilience in the face of a global crisis that has thrown life out of gear
Over the last four decades, the festival has set new benchmarks — as the Ground Zero of the region’s literary and cultural universe, in line with Sharjah’s efforts to promote and encourage the cultural projects launched by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
The fair has become a place to connect with like-minded people, authors, writers and intellectuals from around the Arab world and beyond. SIBF continues to be a leading creative platform where books and art are promoted and encouraged for close to forty years. The festival continues with the tradition in 2020.
Keeping the pandemic in view
There are minor adjustments this year – keeping the pandemic in view – with staggered entry system: The number of visitors has been strictly capped at 5,000 every three hours. Event visits have been divided into four slots, with visitors getting their slots from sharjahreads.ae — a virtual platform that hosts most of the 64 cultural events and activities at SIBF 2020.
This year’s theme, ‘The World Reads from Sharjah’, is complimented with over a million books, showcased by over 1,024 publishers from 73 nations at the fair. The SIBF is the only international exhibition held in the world since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Putting together the book fair, the third largest in the world, in these extremely challenging circumstances is a testament to the UAE and Sharjah’s resilience in the face of a global crisis that has thrown life out of gear.