Sharjah: Book lovers started flipping through thousands of new as well as older titles as one of the world’s biggest book fairs, the 39th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), opened doors on Wednesday at Expo Centre Sharjah.
This year, the 11-day SIBF is being held under precautions such as masks, temperature checks, social distancing and regular sanitisation for COVID-19. There is also an online programme featuring talks by leading authors from around the world.
At SIBF, a free-to-attend event organised annually by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), visitors this edition will be limited to a total of 5,000 people per batch. Visitors have to first register on registration.sibf.com for their three-hour slot, which can be extended if space permits.
‘Pleasure to be here’
One of the first visitors on Wednesday, Tunisian expat Nawres, said SIBF is “one of the best places to be for a seeker of knowledge”. Nawres, who has been in the UAE for two years, said it was her first time at SIBF, which started in 1982. “I humbly advise people to visit the fair to broaden their knowledge. It is such a pleasure to be here,” she added. Nawres said she likes to read self-help books, autobiographies, “anything that can unlock your potential and remind you of your mastery in this world”.
Despite the pandemic, Jashanmal Bookstore returned to SIBF this year without compromising on the size of its huge stand or volume of books, its representative at stand, Vinod Kumar, said. He is expecting strong sales of the latest addition to the ‘Dairy of a Wimpy Kid’ series for children, and novels by UK author David Williams. Children and young adults are keeping demand buoyant, Kumar added.
Some of this year’s biggest names virtually attending SIBF include American rapper and social media star Prince Ea; Canadian writer Yann Martel, perhaps best known for his Life of Pi novel; and Elisabetta Dami, Italian creator of the Geronimo Stilton children’s book series.
The latest edition is being held under the theme ‘The World Reads from Sharjah’. However, international writers are participating only online while local authors will attend in person under COVID-19 precautions. The book fair will also see talks by Indian author and politician Shashi Tharoor and novelist Ravinder Singh.
Last year saw a record 2.52 million visitors at SIBF, said to be the world’s third biggest book fair. The book fair will be held under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
80,000 titles for sale
The literary and cultural programme designed for the 11-day event this year is bringing together 1,024 publishers from 73 countries; and 60 renowned Arab and international authors from 19 countries. They will participate in 64 events and activities in an online and offline format.
SBA chairman Ahmad Al Ameri had earlier announced that 80,000 titles are on offer this year across an area spanning over 10,000 square metres. The line-up of publishers includes 578 Arab publishers and 129 international names, featuring 202 from Egypt and 186 from the UAE, 39 from UK, 29 from USA, among others.
Towards the end of SIBF, members of the American Library Association will be meeting their counterparts from the Arab world virtually for the seventh annual edition of the Sharjah International Library Conference, from November 10 to 12. Themed ‘Challenges faced by librarians and libraries during the New Normal’, the conference discussions will be attended by 300 librarians and library professionals along with 12 speakers, for three hours on each day of the event.
Plan your visit
Register at registration.sibf.com
Chose one of four available slots
Morning 10am to 1pm
Afternoon 1pm to 4pm
Evening 4pm to 7pm
Night 7pm to 10pm
Head to Expo Centre Sharjah
Running November 4 to 14
10am to 10pm all days
Fridays 4pm to 11pm