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Children are welcome at ADIBF from the first day itself on May 23. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) is all set to open its doors on Monday, with visitors greeted by a packed schedule of events and a huge collection of books.

The 31st edition of ADIBF will see the participation of 1,000 publishers from 80 countries, and will run from May 23 May 29. It is being organised by Abu Dhabi’s culture sector regulator, the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) — the DCT Abu Dhabi wing that focuses on Arabic works.

The fair will span 73,000 square metres at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and like previous years, could well see more than 150,000 visitors.

Relaxed precautions

This year, entry requirements are much more relaxed, with vaccinated visitors aged at least 16 years old only have to present a Green Pass on the Al Hosn app, and unvaccinated visitors need to present a negative PCR test result obtained within 96 hours. In addition, children are welcome from the first day itself. All visitors must, however, wear face masks at all times.

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The fair will span 73,000 square metres at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and, like previous years, could well see more than 150,000 visitors. Image Credit: Supplied

Germany will be the Guest of Honour at ADIBF 2022, with a programme of more than 15 cultural events set to feature nearly ten German publishers, intellectuals and creators. Special activities include screenings of German films, as well as events that highlight collaborations between the German and Arab cultures.

Personality of the Year

Egyptian author Taha Hussein, known as the ‘Dean of Arabic Literature’, will be honoured as the Personality of the Year in appreciation of his immense contributions to Arab culture. The event will celebrate the renowned literary figure through a special pavilion that will shed light on his accomplishments and cultural impact, narrating the author’s life story in coordination with the Taha Hussein Museum in Egypt.

“Over the course of more than three decades, ADIBF has succeeded in positioning the emirate as a home for creative minds and innovators in the literary and publishing sectors, contributing to a cultural capital where diverse outlooks and cultures converge to engage in crucial dialogue and exchange. The 2022 fair will reaffirm the role of culture and books in advancing societies and building bridges between nations, with a special highlight being Germany’s return as Guest of Honour — a celebration of the longstanding cultural and intellectual collaboration between the Federal Republic and the Arab world,” Dr Ali bin Tamim, the ALC chairman, said.

Major prizes

Alongside the book fair, publishers will also attend the first International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries, which will be held ahead of the start of ADIBF on Sunday, May 22, to discuss trends in the publishing sector. In addition, the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, known informally as the Arabic Booker Prize, will be awarded on May 22.

On the second day of ADIBF, May 24, nine winners of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award will be honoured, including Saudi thinker Dr Abdullah Al Ghathami, who has been named as the Cultural Personality of the Year.

Book signings

Book signing sessions will also be held for many prominent writers and artists, including Japanese artist and calligrapher Honda and leadership strategist Ann Hyatt. Authors shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction will also hold signing sessions, as will winners of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

Eminent academics and authors

British professor Dr Roger Allen, Professor of Arabic Language and Comparative Literature at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilisations at the University of Pennsylvania, will be one of the notable experts participating in the upcoming edition of the Fair. Dr Allen is known for his contributions in the field of translation, introducing western readers to the works of Arab writers such as Naguib Mahfouz, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Abd Al Rahman Munif, Youssef Idris, and other Arab literary figures.

Also joining ADIBF 2022 will be professor Muhsin J. Al Musawi, Dr Al-Musawi (Iraq/USA) is professor of classical and modern Arabic literature, comparative and cultural studies at Columbia University, New York. A renowned scholar and literary critic, who has enriched Arabic literature with works such as ‘The Arabic Novel: Rise and Transformation’; ‘The Age of The Novel’; ‘Tharat Shahrazad: The Art of Modern Arab Narrative’; ‘Orientalism in Arab Thought’; ‘The Arab Novel After Mahfouz’, and many others.

Global figure on feminist issues

Fair-goers will also be introduced to the achievements of professor Homi K. Bhabha, the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of Humanities, Department of English, and director of the Humanities Centre, at Harvard University. Prof Bhabha is the founding director of the Mahindra Centre for Humanities at Harvard and senior adviser to the President and Provost of Harvard University.

The exhibition will also host professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, professor of Humanities, Columbia University. She is a founding member of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Prof. Spivak is a leading global figure on feminist issues, language and development. Spivak is best known for her translation of and introduction to Jacques Derrida’s De la grammatologie, (1976), ‘In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics’ (1987), and others.

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ADEK boosts quest for knowledge

The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) has announced its participation in the event. The ADEK stand (#D0510, Hall 10) offers students a new perspective on reading, with innovative, interactive experiences that help students explore their passion for books. The stand offers four unique experiences, each representing a different book genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, and Poetry.

“Global studies show that children who read for 20 minutes a day are exposed to more than two million words a year and score 90 per cent or higher on standardised tests,” said Amer Al Hammadi, Undersecretary of ADEK. “We continue our focus on instilling a culture of reading among our community in line with the objectives of UAE National Policy for Reading, especially considering its role in supporting children’s cognitive and social development.”