File picture of a previous edition of the book fair, which this year boasts 1,300 exhibitors Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Abu Dhabi: More than 500,000 titles across genres and languages and over 2,000 cultural activities are set to welcome readers and visitors to the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair starting today on Monday.

The 32nd edition of the annual week-long event is held under the patronage of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and organised by the Abu Dhabi Centre for the Arabic Language, which is part of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi.

The fair will run from May 22 to 28 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

This year, 970 international publishers and exhibitors from more than 85 countries and 330 local publishers from the UAE are participating in the exhibition. During this cultural week, the Fair will host more than 800 guests and speakers.

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Multiple locations

Additionally, in order to expand the scope of activities and reach the largest number of audiences of different tastes and age groups wherever they are in Abu Dhabi, the Fair will provide cultural, literary, artistic and musical events at other locations: The Cultural Foundation - Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi New York University Abu Dhabi, and Logos Hope ship, the largest floating book fair in the world that is currently anchored in Port Zayed.

file pic of abu dhabi book fair supplied-1684672111581
Art installations, such as this one from a previous edition, are part of the displays at the Fair Image Credit: Supplied

Cultural focus

Also, the latest edition, set to be the biggest yet, will organise more than 2,000 cultural activities that vary in their topics and creative content.

This year’s Focus Personality is the Arab sociologist, philosopher, historian and scholar Ibn Khaldun from the Middle Ages, to shed light on his biography, cultural production, literary and intellectual legacy that contributed to the development of human sciences.

The cultural programme will offer visitors more than 130 sessions on a series of literary events and poetic and artistic evenings, while visitors of the professional programme will have a date with more than 46 diverse activities between main dialogues, sessions, seminars and panel discussions in which important topics in the fields of creative industries, most notably marketing, translation, partnerships, content industry and publishing, will be highlighted.

The exhibition’s activities also include more than 70 artistic workshops and more than 20 sessions in the Lifestyles corner, as well as 60 cinematic screenings in the Black Box Cinema and 34 cooking shows.

Children and youth can look forward to 1,800 activities that include a variety of educational and recreational activities that shed light on the various artistic and cognitive fields within the range of interests of this age group.

New attractions

With the achievements made by the UAE in the space sector, this year the exhibition created a new ‘Alpha Corner’, which offers interactive activities that enrich the knowledge of its visitors in the fields of space and science.

As for fans of audiovisual media who are visitors to the exhibition, they will be able to meet the most prominent podcasters in the region and live the experience closely in all its details through the ‘Podcast from Abu Dhabi’ platform that the exhibition is introducing this year through daily sessions of visual and audio content.

Sheikh Zayed Book Award

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA), organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, will hold its 17th ceremony on Tuesday, May 23.

The winning participants are Ali Jaafar Alallaq, Literature category; Chokri Al-Saadi, Translation category; Mathieu Tillier, Arab Culture in Other Languages category; Dr Jalila Al Tritar, Arts and Literary Criticism category; Said Khatibi, Young Author category; Fatima Al Boudi, representing ElAin Publishing, winner of the Publishing and Technology category; and musician Omar Khairat, the 2023 Cultural Personality of the Year.

SZBA will also host discussions on various themes throughout the Fair.

Saudi participation

The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair this year is seeing major participation from Saudi publishers and cultural and educational institutions, which reflects the depth of the historical relations between the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and reflects the active cultural and intellectual movement that the Kingdom is witnessing in the current period.

The Saudi participation includes a strong presence of Saudi universities such as Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University, Naif Arab University for Security Sciences, King Fahd National Library, King Abdul Aziz House and King Saud University.

The Saudi entities participating in the exhibition present a number of important cultural initiatives and projects, the most prominent of which is the ‘Etbaa’ platform, which is the latest experience in the world of printing. It sets new standards of paper and electronic publishing through printing on demand where the author will only have to upload the book on the platform to print it in upon request, without the need to print hundreds of copies in each edition.

The Saudi Research and Media Group (SRMG) will participate in the ‘Raf’ publishing house initiative, which launched its work at the Riyadh International Book Fair, and comes as an extension of the group’s adoption of latest technologies such as print on demand, e-books and audio books.

In numbers - Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2023

• 500,000 titles

• 1,300 exhibitors (970 international and 330 local)

• More than 800 guests and speakers

• More than 2,700 activities, including:

• Over 130 sessions in the cultural programme

• 46 sessions in the professional programme

• More than 1,800 sessions and workshops for children and youth

• 60 screenings in the Black Box Cinema

• More than 70 art workshops

• More than 45 sessions in the Lifestyle Corner

• Over 350 book signings

• Introduction of a ‘Worlds’ Cuisine’ corner that will witness 48 sessions

• More than 700 other events by partners and exhibitors