Visitors throng the Sharjah International Book Fair. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Reminiscing about the 1,800 events and 2.23 million visitors who made the 37th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) a grand success, it is not difficult to tell that the incremental love, admiration and support this annual cultural spectacle receives every year is the direct result of the continuous encouragement and nurturing of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.

The Sharjah International Book Fair is a living example of the success of His Highness’s vision, and reiterates to the world that books and culture are key to shaping the future of societies.

His Highness wanted to establish his emirate as the brightest beacon of culture. His dream is being realised by millions of visitors and book lovers who poured in throughout the 11 days of the fair, looking to immerse themselves in books, arts and entertainment.

To see a motley crowd of school and university students, parents, teachers and professionals, homemakers from all possible cultural backgrounds and all walks of life steadily stream in through the book fair’s gates, was a sight to behold. There was so much we learned from our patrons — still inquiring about topics we thought weren’t topical in this day and age, and showing equal interest in both — things old and new.

His Highness wanted to see young readers queue up to have their books signed by their favourite authors. The endless lines of visitors waiting to attend a panel discussion, people leaving the fair with big carts packed with books, are all proof that our pursuit for knowledge, wisdom and humanity are qualities inherent in humankind.

Appreciation and encouragement

Despite the success of the Sharjah International Book Fair in becoming the world’s third largest, His Highness does not spare an effort to keep us grounded. His emphasis is always in appreciating and encouraging the continuous work and unfailing dedication that everyone involved with this event has brought in to make this event acquire the stature it enjoys today.

This is what Sultan wants for the Arab nation, the entire world and for us. He wants Sharjah to be an international library and a cultural destination sought by intellectuals, brilliant minds and creative people. He wants Sharjah to be like a compass that guides people in the right direction, especially those championing development, culture, language and history.

Shaikh Sultan wants Sharjah to be a hub for all those who welcome friendship and unity.

So, I extend my sincere gratitude to all those who have made this literary celebration a grand success. Authors, publishers and intellectuals — thank you for your efforts to bring knowledge from all corners of the globe to every household in the UAE and the Arab world. Thank you Sharjah Book Authority team members, media representatives, administrators and volunteers for giving every detail your attention and care.

And thank you readers for giving the authors a reason to write and culture a reason to thrive.

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri is the Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority.