Abu Dhabi: Book signings, author discussions, cooking demonstrations and children's workshops are just some of the things visitors can enjoy at the 22nd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF), which opens on Wednesday.

"We are pleased to welcome visitors, both members of the public once again to the fair. As a result of its extensive and varied programme, visitors of all ages will be able to not only take part in activities that interest them, but will also have the opportunity to discover interesting elements within the ADIBF,"said Jumaa Abdulla Al Qubaisi, the fair's director.

Taking place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), the fair, which will run until April 2, is organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

Spanning 21,741 square meters, book lovers are sure to be spoilt for choice as they browse through the 500,000 titles in 33 languages being offered by 904 participants from 54 countries, at the yearly event. This year's ‘Country of Focus', the United Kingdom, will also present a special programme during the fair's six day run.

"The number of participants has increased by 10 per cent since last year, of which 601 are publishers from the region. This reflects the prestige the fair has gained…as becoming a true destination for international publishers looking for new investment opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa book market," said Mohammad Abdullah Al Shehhi, Director of Publishing at ADIBF at a conference earlier this month.

Visitors can also enjoy several new initiatives being offered this year, such as Tawaqee (autographs), which allows them to interact with authors and have their newly purchased books signed by them.

The first 50 readers will get copies of the book for free during these sessions by prominent authors including Ebrahim Nasrallah, Taghreed Najjar, Ariana Bundy, Robert Irwin, Khalil and Amir, authors of the popular graphic novel Zahra's Paradise, and Delphine Jacquot.

"This initiative is one of several we have introduced this year to help build connections between authors, readers and publishers. We are also launching the Arab Rights Showcase, will feature the best in new publications in Arabic for which foreign rights are available," Al Qubaisi said.

"The UAE is one of the toughest countries when it comes to protecting copyrights...and we always do our best to filter participants to ensure that no pirated material is present…last year, as a result of our efforts, approximately 10 publishers were denied permission to take part," he added.