SIBF 2021 was held at Expo Centre Sharjah from November 3 to 13 Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: More than 1.6 million people - mostly women - representing 109 nationalities visited the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) that was held from November 3 to 13 at Expo Centre Sharjah.

The latest SIBF had become the world’s biggest book fair, organises Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) said.

SIBF 2021 brought together 1,632 publishers from 83 countries, offering 15 million books. The milestone edition surpassed every international book fair held this year to become the world’s largest by attracting the largest number of publishers and literary agents.

Women top visitor group

SBA said women accounted for 51.9 per cent of SIBF visitors. As for age groups, 52.2 per cent of visitors were aged between 16 and 30.

Also, around 20,000 amongst the 1.6 million visitors to SIBF 2021 walked into the 11-day fair more than once; and thousands have visited the fair three to seven times – some even made multiple visits in one day.

‘Not the end’

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of SBA, said: “The conclusion of the book fair marks not the end but the beginning of a new journey of cultural excellence for the UAE and the Arab region – one in which the distinct voices of writers and intellectuals are heard and begin to resonate with the whole world.”

‘Think Like a Monk’

The last day of SIBF 2021, Saturday, heard a talk by social media star Jay Shetty, who once lived as a monk. The bestselling author of ‘Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day’, recalled how as a young teenager who was obsessed with the rags-to-riches stories of the powerful and the wealthy, his life changed at the age of 18 when he attended a captivating talk by a monk in London.

Jay Shetty during his talk at SIBF 2021 on Saturday Image Credit: Supplied

“He was the first person in my life I had met who was genuinely happy,” said Shetty, who followed the monk on his speaking tour, and spent a few summers at his monastery in India, and eventually trained to become a monk himself.

Stating that living in the past and worrying about the future are roadblocks that prevent individuals from attaining their potential, the UK-born author encouraged the audience to live in the moment.

Workers flock to fair

Among the SIBF visitors were blue-collar workers attending sessions under an initiative of Labour Standards Development Authority (LSDA) in Sharjah. The initiative was part of a plan of LSDA to involve workers in Sharjah’s cultural activities, in coordination with SBA and the public and private sector institutions that employ large numbers of workers.

Workers listening to a session at SIBF 2021 Image Credit: Supplied

LSDA Chairman Salem Yousef Al Qaseer said: “LSDA is proud of its success in this regard, and the cooperation achieved with the public and private sectors. Through this initiative, we seek to share workers in the cultural activities in the emirate of Sharjah, in line with the keen interest of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.”

Al Qaseer also announced the completion of several libraries installed in workers’ accommodations under the ‘Private Library in Every Labour Accommodation’ initiative launched in cooperation with the ‘Culture without Borders’ initiative in Sharjah.