Sharjah: Consolidating its position as the world’s largest book fair for the second year in a row in terms of buying and selling of copyrights, the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) drew to a successful close on Sunday, after receiving 2.17 million readers from 112 countries during its 12-day run at Expo Centre Sharjah.
Organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) under the theme ‘Spread the Word’, the fair’s visitors comprised 54.2 per cent male and 45.8 per cent female. Of these, 40.8 per cent were in the 16-25 age group while 35.1 per cent formed part of the 25-45 age group.
SIBF 2022 received 218,000 students.
This year, SIBF 2022 hosted 2,213 publishers, comprising 1,298 from the Arab region and 915 from around the world. Under the book fair’s cultural programme this year, SIBF hosted 150 distinguished authors, intellectuals and creatives who led 1,500 activities and sessions including 200 activities encompassing workshops, talks, and seminars.
The latest edition, which celebrated Italy as the Guest of Honour, hosted a galaxy of authors, sports personalities, intellectuals, artists, popular cinema icons from the Arab region and the Subcontinent, and a host of specialised experts to drive home Sharjah’s cultural campaign to the world, ‘If you’re into something, you’re into books’.
It also offered a diverse array of activities including music, arts, poetry evenings, and more under its cultural programme.
SIBF 2022 welcomed footballing legend Zlatan Ibrahimović; India’s most celebrated actor Shah Rukh Khan - popularly known as the King of Bollywood; Egyptian actor Karim Abdul Aziz, lead star of The Blue Elephant; Egypt’s renowned action hero Ahmed El Sakka; and Saudi Arabia’s prized musician Abadi Al Johar, amongst a host of other cultural celebrities.
Sudanese historian Yusuf Fadl Hasan was celebrated as ‘Cultural Personality’ of SIBF 2022 while the fair also hosted a distinguished group of regional and international guests in the 41st edition, including Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka, winner of the 2022 Booker Prize; Geetanjali Shree, Hindi-language author and winner of the International Booker prize; Algerian novelist Waciny Laredj, Egyptian writer Ahmad Mourad, and author Sultan Al Amimi, Chairman of the Emirates Writers Union, amongst others.
200 cultural activities
The forum halls opened doors for debates and discussions on some of the most prominent issues impacting Arab and world literature and explored challenges of translation, delved into the future of communication, and offered insights on the importance of research, documentation and history. Over the course of 12 days, SIBF hosted more than 200 cultural discussions to enrich and educate the visitors.
African - Arab Cultural Programme
This year, the book fair shed light on the African experience in literature through the African - Arab Cultural Programme and celebrated writers of the contemporary diaspora with a special programme encompassing performances and activities in literature, art, fashion, and music.
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The annual book fair, which places publishers at the heart of the cultural event, opened opportunities for professionals in the industry to network, matchmake, and forge partnerships. 26 publishing houses from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, India, UK, Morocco, Algeria, Tunis and UAE, are embarking on a new journey to make inroads in the region and beyond by signing up to avail the support facilities and services at the Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone.
Dh4.5 million grant
During the fair, His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, directed the allocation of Dh4.5 million to equip the emirate’s libraries with the latest titles from regional and international publishing houses who have a presence at the 41st SIBF.
Social Media impressions
With more than 38 million impressions, SIBF’s social media accounts reached more than 7 million users globally. More than 18 million individuals viewed videos created for the 41st edition while the hashtag ‘#SIBF22’ created 78 million impressions. In addition, there were 8,400 individual posts from the public and media that used the hashtag in Arabic and English.
Readers as ambassadors
Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of SBA, said: “Curtains came down on the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair with over 2.17 million visitors. These are not mere visitors but ambassadors who carry forward the message and vision of SBA, and the emirate’s cultural project that was founded five decades ago by [Sheikh Sultan] which has grown and borne fruit, the latest of which is the recognition as the world’s largest book fair for the second year in a row.”
He added: “One of the core goals of the book fair is to raise awareness on the importance of reading, and build communities that believe in the value and impact of books. We have achieved this goal to a large extent. Our goal is to transcend the idea that reading is an activity for intellectuals only. At SBA, we believe that reading is for all segments of the community whose interests span across varied fields like music, cinema, sports, architecture, fashion, or any other. This was reflected in the diversity of SIBF guests in the 41st edition whose relationship with books was evident during their participation at the event.”
Khoula Al Mujaini, general coordinator of SIBF, said: “SIBF vibrant agenda of activities in its 41st edition offered a comprehensive experience that attracted visitors and distinguished artists, sportsmen and authors from all around the world. The high footfall is a clear indicator of the status and importance of the international book fair in meeting the demands of its guests, regardless of age and nationalities.”