Sharjah: The Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2023) has marked a new milestone for both the UAE and Sharjah, as it continued to hold its position as the world’s largest book fair in terms of buying and selling publishing rights - for the third consecutive year.
Concluding its 42nd edition, the fair featured an impressive array of over 1.5 million books spanning diverse fields of knowledge and creativity. The event hosted the participation of 2,033 publishers from 109 countries worldwide, culminating in a remarkable year of achievements, marked notably by the highest number of participating countries in its history.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) Chairperson, said: “It was an honour to witness the wholehearted reception that SIBF 2023 received from both global publishing industry stakeholders and the individuals who this cultural platform has been envisioned and designed for. The book fair’s success is not only a validation for SBA’s successful strategies to promote publishing and reading, but testifies to the successful legacy that His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has built for over the past 50 years to create a culture that fosters creativity, encourages dialogue and supports innovation. Even after all these remarkable feats, we believe our journey in offering a diverse and inclusive platform for learning and exchange that is irrigated by the voices, ideas and creativity of passionate minds from around the world, has only just begun.”
Themed ‘We Speak Books,’ the 12-day international extravaganza welcomed visitors from 109 countries. The fair engaged book and culture enthusiasts, students from schools around the country, academics, intellectuals and those in the creative industries, offering them a unique opportunity to explore the latest titles and interact with influencers and authors.
The spotlight of SIBF 2023 was on South Korea, the Guest of Honour, whose pavilion witnessed a remarkable influx of visitors. Throughout the 12 days, attendees immersed themselves in the rich culture and engaged with 25 intellectuals and artists leading 20 activities as part of the cultural programme titled ‘Imagination Without Borders.’
Renowned figures such as Iraqi superstar Kadim Al Sahir, author and comedian Bassem Youssef, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, Indian actress Kareena Kapoor, American astronaut Sunitha Williams, and Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell graced the event, sharing their experiences, journeys, and launching their latest works.
Ibrahim Al-Koni, celebrated as the ‘Cultural Personality of the Year,’ with over ninety books to his name, joined the Sharjah Literary Agency (SLA), becoming its exclusive literary representative in all languages worldwide.
SIBF 2023 showcased over 1,700 cultural and artistic activities, emphasising the deep cultural relations between Sharjah and Portugal through an exhibition titled “The Portuguese in the Gulf, 1507-1650: An Interlinked History.” The fair further demonstrated its commitment to supporting knowledge dissemination by a generous Dh4.5 million donation from His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi to equip Sharjah’s public libraries with the latest releases.
In supporting publishers, the Sharjah Publishing City (SPC) Free Zone announced a comprehensive package offering financial incentives of up to Dh3 million, along with a 90 per cent exemption on licensing and business establishment fees.
Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, CEO of Sharjah Book Authority, said: “With the conclusion of the 42nd edition of SIBF, we look forward to the upcoming edition to reinforce Sharjah’s vibrant cultural scene developed by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. This stems from our deep belief in the fact that the global reputation our book fair has earned over the past 42 editions requires continuous efforts to reach greater heights. Among the highlights of this edition was achieving the highest global representation with the participation of 109 countries and holding the record for being the world’s largest book fair for the third year in a row.”
Al Ameri added: “We take pride in the fact that each year SIBF highlights a brighter and more distinguished image of Emirati and Arab culture to the world. Under the leadership of Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Chairperson of SBA, we are eager to continue expanding Sharjah’s role as a hub of knowledge and creativity, as we firmly believe that the fruits of culture are long lasting on society, and it has a sustainable contribution towards enabling communities in realising their aspirations.”
Khawla Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SIBF and Director of Events and Marketing, SBA, said: “Every year, we take new strides towards ambitious goals set by Sharjah in the publishing sector, expanding creative industries’ contribution to the region’s development goals. With its achievements, this year’s book fair has proved that the opportunities for publishers and the book industry in the region and the world are limitless. Sharjah’s centrality on the cultural capital map is an opportunity that will elevate knowledge and transform challenges in building societies into solutions and opportunities. The numbers of visitors, participants, and the sale and purchase of copyrights assert the trust of industry professionals and readers in Sharjah and its long-term vision.”