Abu Dhabi: The annual event which is highly anticipated by book lovers in the capital has returned, now with more than 900 exhibitors to ensure that all visitors are spoilt for choice.

The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF), now in its 22nd edition, was launched yesterday and will take place until Monday, April 2, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

The event has been organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, and is held under the patronage of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

"The number of participants has increased by ten per cent since last year, which reflects the prestige the fair has gained… as becoming a true destination for international publishers looking for new investment opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa book market," said Mohammad Abdullah Al Shehhi, Director of Publishing at ADIBF.

"There is also a focus this year on Emirati writers, over the course of a number of evenings and events organised in cooperation between the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair and the UAE Writers Union," he added.

New elements

In addition to the numerous exhibitors, who represent 54 countries, the annual event will also showcase over half a million titles in 33 languages in an area that spans 21,741 square metres.

Organisers have also announced several new elements which visitors can look forward to and explore at the book fair.

"This year, we have added several new initiatives, such as the Autographs [Tawaqee] sessions, DAAD Project and Arab Rights Showcase," said Juma Abdullah Al Qubaisi, the director of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

"The first two are aimed at creating awareness and building connections between authors, readers and publishers," he added.

"The rights showcase will feature the best in new publications in Arabic for which foreign rights are available."

Al Qubaisi also stressed that the fair will continue its vigilant surveillance of participating publishers to ensure no copyright violations take place within the event's six day run.

"The UAE is one of the toughest countries when it comes to protecting copyrights... and we always do our best to filter participants to ensure that no pirated material is present… last year, as a result of our efforts, approximately ten publishers were denied permission to take part," he said.

Visitors can also enjoy a wide range of cultural and professional activities, including author discussions and matchmaking sessions, as well as series of special events aimed at highlighting this year's ‘Country of Focus', the United Kingdom.

"Popular venues within the fair will also return, including the Creativity Corner, which will provide a range of educational activities, several of which have been organised for children with special needs," Al Shehhi said.

"Members of the public and professionals can also interact with illustrators, designers and agencies once again at the Illustrators' Corner, where participants will be showcasing their work," he added.