Abu Dhabi: The much-awaited Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) on Monday opened its doors in the capital, with book lovers, children and authors arriving with renewed enthusiasm on its first day.
The fair was opened by Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, who was accompanied by other dignitaries as he toured the 73,000-square-metre event. The fair is organised by Abu Dhabi’s culture sector regulator, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), and the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC).
Much to offer
Scouring for rare titles, visitors said the 31st edition of the annual fair has much to offer, especially in its in-person format.
“I visit ADIBF every year, and I was so excited that I had to come down as soon as it opened. There are many works that are stocked here that are otherwise hard to find in bookstores because they sell out so quickly. In fact, I am now looking for a specific work by Emirati poet Amal Al Sahlawi,” Reem Salem, 22, an Emirati graduate, told Gulf News.
“I want to come down and meet authors and other literary personalities at the fair. These kinds of literary events not only create valuable opportunities to connect with like-minded people, they also create excitement about reading and learning in a way that I love.”
Meanwhile Syrian teenagers Laith Mohammed and Faris Basshar were beaming at a purchase they had made.
“We’ve been looking for this book by Kuwaiti author and activist, Yasser Al Bahri, and we’ve finally managed to buy a copy. We were told that he might visit ADIBF, and we are hoping to meet him,” Mohammad said.
“The ADIBF has so many titles available on comparative religion and Arab history and heritage that we did not want to miss it. We will see what we can find today, and come back again with as part of a field trip with our school on Wednesday,” Basshar said.
Reading made fun
School visits are a popular part of the ADIBF, with the first day already seeing dozens of eager schoolchildren going from stall to stall.
“Book fairs go a long way in making reading look exciting,” said Abdullah Al Hosani, 17, an Emirati university student.
“I don’t think my generation does enough reading, so ADIBF certainly plays a great role in presenting valuable learning opportunities. I am myself here to network with authors and thinkers.”
He added that he also loves having access to books of different languages under one roof.
“I read in English, Arabic and French, and I can find all kinds of titles here. In addition, I can always get a recommendation or two on books that deal with political science and international relations, which helps me increase my knowledge. This is why I prefer shopping in person instead of buying online,” he said.
More than 1,000 publishers from 80 countries are participating in ADIBF this year, which has relaxed entry requirements compared to last year. Vaccinated visitors aged at least 16 years old only have to present a Green Pass on Al Hosn, and unvaccinated visitors must present a negative PCR test result obtained within 96 hours. Visitors do have to keep their facemasks on.
Germany in focus
In addition to works in English and Arabic, a sizable number of German titles are available because Germany is being celebrated as the Guest of Honour at the ADIBF 2022. A programme of over 15 cultural events are also putting the spotlight on 10 German publishers, intellectuals and creators, and German filming screenings are part of the schedule.
On Tuesday, ADIBF will honour the winners of the Sheikh Zayed Book Awards.
Throughout its seven-day run, there are also scheduled workshops, some of which are being held virtually, to engage attendees.
The fair runs until Sunday, May 29, and visitors can register for their visit online in order to obtain a ticket.
Abu Dhabi International Book Fair
When: May 23 to May 29
Timings: 9am to 10pm
Where: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre
Tickets available online at adbookfair website