Kindergarten students visiting the Sharjah International Book Fair last year. Around 200,000 book titles will be made available during this year’s fair, which comprises 155,000 Arab book titles and 45,000 titles in the foreign language section. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive/Virendra Saklani

Sharjah: A total of 788 publishers from 53 countries are expected to participate in the 29th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair which begins at the Expo Centre Tuesday.

His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, will inaugurate the event.

Organised by the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information, the event will run for 12 days from October 26 to November 6.

Around 200,000 book titles will be made available during the fair, which comprises 155,000 Arab book titles and 45,000 titles in the foreign language section.

While this year's event will continue to focus on books, it will also add an extra element for visitors by providing them with a diverse range of workshops and lectures by prominent personalities, in addition to a live-cooking demonstration by cook book author Sally Bee.

"We are very pleased that Sally Bee has agreed to participate at the book fair, where she will have her cook books displayed.

Popular quotient

"She will also have a work station ready for her to cook her latest healthy recipes," said Ahmad Al Ameri, Director of Sharjah International Book Fair.

"The Obamas are also a fan of hers and have already invited her to the White House."

Al Ameri explained that this year's fair will target a wider audience, and will also cater to comic book fans.

"We have also invited Kevin Anderson to come and host a workshop, and think that he will be one of the most popular speakers at the show. Whatever people are looking for, they can find it at the book fair because we have added such a rich programme so that people of all ages can enjoy," he said.

Anderson, an American science fiction author, gained fame for his works some of which included writing novels for Star Wars, StarCraft, Titan A.E., and The X-Files. He is also the co-author for the Dune prequels.

"Authors will be coming in for a book signing, and there will be discussion panels on Arab and Western comics, in addition to a digital panel that will cover the topic of e-books," he said.

For the second time running, a cultural café will be available for visitors where they will be provided with traditional novels and classical music from the UAE and other Arab countries.

The Arabic Children's Literature 2010 award will also be held on the sidelines of the book fair, where the Dh1 million prize winner will be announced on October 26.

Fifty per cent of the prize money will be awarded to the winning publisher, while the remaining 50 per cent will be divided between the writer and illustrator, as per the jury's decision.

The short-listed books for this year are: Al Noqta Al Sawda (the Black Dot), Ahlam Waraqa (A Paper's Dream), Ofatesh An Hewaya (Looking for a Hobby), Ta'al El'ab Ma'e (Come Play With Me) and Farahana Wa Sir Jamaliha (Farahana and the Secrets of Her Beauty).

Look who's talking

Octavia Nasr will be holding a lecture later in the day at 8pm on October 26, at the Sharjah Expo Centre as part of the book fair.

Nasr, who was forced to resign last July as CNN's senior Middle East editor after 20 years with the US-based news channel, will be giving a lecture to discuss the impact of media on society, while talking about her experience in the media profession.

A poetry recital by Indian intellectuals will be conducted by Sethu on October 29, Professor V. Madhusoodanan Nair on October 30, and Professor O.N.V. Kurup on November 5.

  • What: Sharjah International Book Fair
  • Where: Sharjah Expo Centre
  • When: October 26 to November 6
  • For more information: sharjahbookfair.com
  • Timings: Daily— 10am to 10pm; Friday — 4pm to 10pm