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The UAE flag being raised at Sharjah International Book Fair in Expo Centre Sharjah on Tuesday. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The 40th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) opened its doors to the public at Expo Centre Sharjah today. SIBF was officially inaugurated by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, yesterday.

United in spirit, UAE residents, visitors and students from all nationalities gathered around the country’s national flag that was unfurled in all its glory at the main hall of SIBF as the UAE Flag Day coincided with the opening day of the 11-day fair. The gathering stood proudly to honour this national symbol as the national anthem resonated through Expo Centre Sharjah.

The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) celebrates this key occasion every year to foster national spirit and honour the cherished values of the UAE, while also underlining the importance of the Flag Day which is a symbol of pride.

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United in spirit, UAE residents, visitors and students from all nationalities gathered around the country’s national flag that was unfurled in all its glory at the main hall of Sharjah International Book Fair. Image Credit: Supplied

Showcasing Indian books

Dr Aman Puri, the Consul General of India in Dubai, inaugurated the India Stand at SIBF today. Inaugurating the India Stand, Dr Puri expressed his happiness at the range of Indian books exhibited at the NBT-India stall and the vernacular publications from various Indian publishers showcased across various genres. He congratulated NBT-India for its work in publishing quality literature and promoting reading and books for the youth through book fairs and exhibitions. He also extended his best wishes for the upcoming New Delhi World Book Fair 2022 (organised by NBT-India) where ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsava’ (The Great Freedom Celebrations) is the theme of the fair.

Dr Aman Puri, the Consul General of India in Dubai, inaugurates the India Stand at Sharjah International Book Fair today. Image Credit: Supplied

Indigenous literature

After the inauguration, Dr Puri visited the stalls of other Indian publishers exhibiting their offerings in the pavilion and interacted with them. He expressed his pleasure on the books displayed and the motivation and passion displayed by Indian publishers to showcase their indigenous literature at international forum.

Led by the stall of National Book Trust, India, the SIBF has a presence of more than 85 Indian publishers, including Capexil and Publications Division. The stall of National Book Trust, India (Hall No 7, ZA-1) at SIBF showcases a collection of about 250 titles in English, Hindi, Malayalam and Urdu representing the work of more than 30 Indian publishers.

APIF Committee convenes in Sharjah

Meanwhile, the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF) Committee has convened in Sharjah to discuss the projects that received funding from the APIF in the 2021 cycle and explore ways to scale up and enhance these projects. Now in its third cycle, the fund is a joint initiative of the IPA and Dubai Cares, a UAE-based global philanthropic organisation, and aims to support literacy, book access, indigenous publishing, and library services across Africa.

Comprising senior publishing leaders from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and South Africa, and led by Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the IPA, the fund’s objectives are laid out annually and address the most pressing challenges facing African publishing.

Bodour Al Qasimi and other dignitaries at the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund Committee meeting in Sharjah. Image Credit: Supplied

'Championing home-grown projects across Africa'

Praising the committee members on the success of the fund, Al Qasimi said: “We are thrilled to see the impact this fund has had over the past two-years in championing home-grown projects across Africa. These projects effectively address challenges and respond to the needs of the indigenous publishing, education, and library sectors. APIF is the IPA’s first-ever foray into the grant-giving domain in our 125-year history, and the fantastic results demonstrate that it’s never too late to get behind a cause and lead lasting change. Along with our partner Dubai Cares, we have mobilised this fund strategically to advance key sectors vital for sustainable development.”

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Reading skill

Describing their partnership with the IPA as a natural extension of Dubai Cares’ commitment to ensuring that children worldwide can take advantage of the life-long benefits of the crucial skill of reading, Dr Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive officer and vice-chairman of Dubai Cares, noted: “Since the establishment of APIF, we have witnessed remarkable outcomes that are expanding IPA’s contributions towards promoting literacy. We thank the IPA for their sustained efforts in improving literacy, book access, indigenous publishing, and library restoration in Africa, and look forward to continuing our work together and positively impacting the lives of people across Africa.”

The $800,000 (Dh2,942,400) grant funded by Dubai Cares and administered by the IPA has received an array of inspiring ideas off the ground. So far, the fund has disbursed $400,000 to 12 initiatives, including eight publishing innovations and four library projects in over five countries across the African continent.

At a glance:

What: Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF)

Where: Expo Centre, Sharjah

When: November 3 to 13

Visiting hours: 10am to 10pm (Fridays 4pm to 11pm)