Dr Shaikh Sultan honours Azzeldine Mihoubi, Algeria’s Minister of Culture, as the SIBF Personality of the Year. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Sharjah: The 37th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) started on Wednesday with a message of peace for all humanity and a celebration of culture.

His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated SIBF during an opening ceremony at Expo Centre, home of the 11-day SIBF.

In his opening remarks, Dr Shaikh Sultan said he had called for a movement for cultural development in 1979, which will be marking 40 years of success next year.

He thanked Emiratis and residents who had supported his movement through the decades. Dr Shaikh Sultan said there were too many of them to thank personally. He described them as all those who supported orphans, patients, culture, science, women’s rights and other causes in Sharjah.

'Crown of Sharjah'

Dr Shaikh Sultan also gifted ‘The Crown of Sharjah’ to his wife Shaikh Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, who he described as the treasure of Sharjah.

The Ruler of Sharjah also honoured Azzeldine Mihoubi, Algeria’s Minister of Culture, as the SIBF Personality of the Year; Japan as the Guest of Honour; and winners of various awards in publishing and literature.

The awards included the Dh1.3 million Tarjuman (Translation) prize, in its second edition, which was given to a French publisher for translating an Arabic book called Features of Tyranny into French.

New book

Dr Shaikh Sultan also launched his new book, available in Arabic and English, titled ‘Bibi Fatima and the King’s Sons’.

Sharjah is the World Book Capital 2019

It was also announced during the ceremony that Sharjah is the World Book Capital 2019. Sharjah will celebrate the achievement through various ways between December 2019 and April 2020. More details will be announced at a later stage, an announcer said during the ceremony.

Biggest edition

The biggest edition of SIBF opened today with 1.6 million titles — 80,000 of them new — on offer for visitors. A total of 20 million books are up for grabs in what is described as the world’s third largest book fair.

SIBF 2018, held under the theme ‘Tale of Letters’, is the biggest edition so far in terms of the number of publishers (1,874) and the volume of books (20 million) this year.

Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

The 11-day SIBF, organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), is running from October 31 to November 10.

SBA has always said SIBF is not just a book fair but a cultural event as well, filled with free-to-attend lectures, activities and entertainment for the whole family.

Cultural platform

Ahmad Al Amiri, chairman of SBA, said during the opening ceremony that SIBF and Sharjah are platforms to spread culture and knowledge through words written by so many diverse people. He added that all people are one humanity and share the same planet.

Throughout its run, SIBF will be curating 1,800 events and featuring 472 guests from around the world, with 200 book-signing ceremonies for authors from 19 countries.

A wide-array of international authors, intellectuals, bloggers, and YouTubers will also be attending the event, including award-winning British author Emma Gannon and physicist Dr Leonard Mlodinow from the US.

The Social Media Station at SIBF has curated many activities for lovers of creative arts and modern technology, starting with animated photos, to media campaigns, and ending with the methodology of content creation at social media platforms.

Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

The Children’s Programme offers young visitors several engaging events, theatrical performances, shows and workshops, such as ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, the ‘King of Lions’ which is inspired by Disney’s ‘The Lion King’.

The Cookery Corner Programme has curated 60 events with 16 guests from 11 countries such as France, India, Australia, and others.

SIBF at a glance

• 1.6 million titles, including 80,000 new books
• 1,800 cultural and entertainment activities
• 470 authors, poets and artists from all over the world
• Over 1,800 publishing houses from 77 countries
• 200 book-signing ceremonies by authors

When to visit

What: Sharjah International Book Fair 2018
Where: Expo Centre Sharjah
When: October 31 to November 10
Free entry for all people
Timings: 9am to 10pm daily (Fridays 4pm to 11pm)
More info: www.sibf.com

SIBF 2018 guest list

• UAE guests include Omar Gobash, UAE Ambassador to France; novelist Sultan Al Omaimi, poet Kholoud Al Mualla, poet and writer Saleha Ghabesh, and actor and director Habib Ghuloom

• Arab guests include Algerian novelist Ahlam Mosteghanemi, Egyptian novelist Ahmad Murad, Kuwaiti novelist Dr Taleb Al Rifai, Sudanese novelist Amir Taj Al Sir, Jordanian — Palestinian novelist and poet Ebrahim Nasrallah, Lebanese novelist Alwiyah Subeh, and Dr Ahmad Amara from Egypt

• Indian guests including motivational speaker Gaur Gopal Das; actress, director and social activist Nandita Das; composer, conductor and violinist L. Subramaniam; journalist and television commentator Karan Thapar; film actor and director Prakash Raj; actress and writer Soha Ali Khan, and ‘superwoman’ Lilly Singh

Western guests include UK writers James E. Montgomery, Bruce Parry and Emma Gannon. American authors include Dr Leonard Mlodinow, James W. Parkinson and A.J. Finn.