Sharjah Book Fair at Sharjah Expo Centre will have over 80,000 titles this year Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News. Picture for illustrative purpose only.

Sharjah: Both physical and virtual doors of the 39th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2020), one of the world’s biggest book fairs, open on Wednesday under a hybrid online–offline format this year in line with precautions for COVID-19.

Through its offline programme, the 11-day book fair offers an opportunity to physically visit 1,024 publishers from 73 nations that are exhibiting over 80,000 new titles in English, Arabic and other languages at the Expo Centre Sharjah, by pre-booking fixed visitation slots at registration.sibf.com.

Visitors entering the Expo Centre from all access points will undergo thermal scanning and walk through sanitising gates. They will be given coloured bracelets that will monitor their fixed three-hour visits, which can be extended on the SIBF website. The fair’s halls and publisher stalls will be sanitised and disinfected daily.

Virtual programme

The virtual cultural programme of SIBF 2020 comprises 64 discussions with 60 renowned authors, intellectuals, poets, politicians and artists from 19 countries, which will be delivered online via the ‘Sharjah Reads’ platform, allowing people from around the globe access to the entire programme remotely. To register for these talks, people should visit sharjahreads.com.

Among the literary luminaries and global cultural figures participating in the fair are Prince Ea, Robert Kiyosaki, Lang Leav, Elisabetta Dami, Yann Martel, Neil Pasricha, Yaser Akel, Ravinder Singh, Wasini al-A’raj, Ahmed Murad, Lina Khoury, Layla Mutawa, Ahmad Al-Rifai, Mishel Hamad, and Sultan Alameemi, Iman Al Yousef.

Organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), SIBF 2020 is themed ‘The World Reads from Sharjah’. For the first time in SIBF’s history, SBA has tied up with embassies of various countries in the UAE to design eight intellectual discussions, which will be led by Emirati writers and their counterparts from Spain, Germany, France, Italy and Russia, to name a few.

In addition, for SIBF’s audience of children and youth, SBA is collaborating with the UAE’s Ministry of Education to host virtual meetings between students and authors and cultural figures. In light of the growing importance of social media tools and digital technologies to facilitate life, schooling and business in the pandemic era, SBA has announced a schedule of social media workshops catering to all age groups.

The latter half of the fair will witness the seventh edition of Sharjah International Library Conference, from November 10 for 12. Organised in collaboration with the American Library Association, the conference will convene library professionals from around the world to discuss and debate key topics around its theme, ‘Challenges faced by librarians and libraries during the New Normal’.