Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA
Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman, Sharjah Book Authority, highlighted Sharjah's decades-long cultural project during the press conference to announce details of SIBF 2022 Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The 41st annual edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) will be the biggest ever, with 2,213 publishers from 95 countries showcasing 1.5 million titles, organiser Sharjah Book Authority announced on Wednesday.

Held under the theme ‘Spread the Word’, the latest edition will feature 129 authors, intellectuals and experts from 57 countries worldwide who will lead 1,047 activities at SIBF slated for a 12-day run at the Expo Centre Sharjah from November 2 to 13.

International guests

A galaxy of literary stalwarts from around the world will also headline SIBF 2022, she added.

Prominent names include New York Times bestselling author Deepak Chopra, the American author of Abundance: The Inner Path to Wealth and Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential; Lincoln Pierce, cartoonist/writer and bestselling author of the hilarious Big Nate book series; Rupi Kaur, Canadian poet, illustrator, photographer, and author; Pico Iyer, a British-born essayist and novelist; Geetanjali Shree, Indian author and short story writer and winner of International Booker Prize 2022; D.J. Palmer, American author of numerous critically acclaimed suspense novels including The New Husband and My Wife is Missing; and Megan Hess, Australian fashion illustrator who has written and illustrated 16 best-selling books.

Details revealed

SIBF 2022 will celebrate Italy as the Guest of Honour with an agenda presented by Italian authors, intellectuals, artists and publishers to offer visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the cultural impact of the European nation.

The details of the upcoming edition of one of the world’s top book fairs were revealed on Wednesday during a press conference held at the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP) in the presence of Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA; Mohammed Khalaf, Director General of Sharjah Broadcasting Authority; Giuseppe Finocchiaro, Consul General of Italy in Dubai; Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SIBF; Mansour AlHassani, Director of Publisher’s Services at SBA;

The press conference was also attended by Ali bin Hatem, President, Emirates Publishers Association (EPA); Rashid Al Kous, Executive Director, EPA; Salem Omar Salem, Executive Director of the SBA; Ida Zilio Grandi, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Abu Dhabi; Amedeo Scarpa, Director, Italian Trade Agency, UAE; and Mohamed Al Ameemi, Vice President/Business Engagement and Customer Support, Etisalat.

press con sibf 2022
During the press conference Image Credit: Supplied

Cultural project

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: “The annual Sharjah International Book Fair is a manifestation of Sharjah’s cultural project, and brings together thousands of publishers and hundreds of writers and creators, in addition to millions of books in different languages under one big roof. This is a source of great pride for us and the fruit of a seed planted and nurtured by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah more than 41 years ago.”

He added: “The book fair started with just a few hundred publishers and visitors. Today, it is hosting the largest number of publishers in its history as it welcomes 2,213 publishers. Last year, SIBF was recognised as the largest book fair in the world in terms of buying and selling intellectual property rights. Even though this achievement was not our primary objective but is the outcome of the wise vision of His Highness to build nations by fostering knowledge exchange and elevating communities through the power of the written word.”

Mohammed Khalaf, Director General of the Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, said: “The Sharjah Broadcasting Authority is proud to be the official media partner of this prestigious international event which advances Sharjah’s model cultural project. Through our affiliates and subsidiaries, we will provide comprehensive coverage of the activities at SIBF 2022, including conducting interviews with distinguished guests and setting up dedicated studios for our satellite channels and radio stations.”

Guest of Honour

Expressing his respect and gratitude to His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Giuseppe Finocchiaro, Consul General of Italy in Dubai, thanked Sheikh Sultan for the vision that has enriched the crucial role played by books in shaping societies and their development. Stating that Italy’s Guest of Honour recognition is an exceptional opportunity to further forge bonds between Italy and Sharjah through the vehicle of culture, the Consul General said that cultural exchanges are essential to build mutual understanding among all peoples.

Giuseppe Finocchiaro, Consul General of Italy in Dubai
Giuseppe Finocchiaro, Consul General of Italy in Dubai, during the press conference Image Credit: Supplied

To celebrate its participation as SIBF 2022 Guest of Honour, Italy will organise 17 activities as part of its cultural programme.

Of these, 4 events are part of the Cookery Corner and 5 are children’s activities, in addition to 6 entertainment shows and roaming shows, she elaborated. The other activities led by Italy include ‘Aterballetto: A Poetry Abstraction’ and ‘Balletto Di Roma’ (Ballet of Rome).

Notable Italian authors participating in SIBF 2022 include Viola Ardone, Luigi Ballerini, Alessandro Baricco, and Francesca Corrao.

Record participation

Mansour AlHassani, Director of Publisher’s Services at SBA, revealed that for the first time in its 41-year-history, SIBF brings together 1,298 Arab and 915 international publishers to showcase more than 1.5 million titles across a 18,000-square-metre area.

With the participation of 339 publishing houses, the UAE tops the list of Arab publishers, followed by Egypt with 306 participants and Lebanon and Syria represented by 125 and 95 publishers respectively. On the international level, 112 publishers will be coming in from India while the UK will be represented by 61 publishers.

SIBF 2022 will also mark the debut participation of publishers from 10 countries including Cuba, Costa Rica, Liberia, Philippines, Ireland, Malta, Mali, Jamaica, Iceland and Hungary.

Publishers conference

Unveiling details of the professional programmes scheduled for the 2022 edition, Mansour AlHassani said that more than 230 Arab publishers will receive specialised training in collaboration with New York University that focuses on international publishing standards and practices.

More than 30 speakers and experts will lead 8 panel discussions at the 12th SIBF Publishers Conference, taking place at Expo Centre Sharjah from October 30 to November 1. The three-day event will address the key issues and challenges facing the publishing sector, the future of digital publishing in the Arab world, and spotlight emerging markets to market audio books. The event will also serve as a platform for deliberating ways to advance the sector, expertise exchange, and strike new deals.

Libraries summit

The second edition of the two-day National Libraries Summit will be organised at Expo Centre Sharjah on November 6 and 7 in partnership with the American Library Association, and will see the participation of delegates from 30 countries, Al Hassani said

Sharjah International Library Conference

The 9th edition of the Sharjah International Library Conference (SILC), held in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA), will run between November 8 and 10, and bring together an international group of librarians and experts representing various libraries in the US and countries around the world.

‘Spread the Word’

Commenting on the SIBF 2022 slogan, Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SIBF, said: “‘Spread the Word’ has great significance for Sharjah, the cultural capital of the Arab world. Through this slogan, we want to convey that the emirate bears the responsibility of spreading knowledge and literature worldwide and celebrate humankind’s capacity to create change, instil positivity, and connect with others. It is also an affirmation that Sharjah is a living platform for cultural exchange and a meeting place for peoples from around the world.”

1,000-plus activities

Announcing the SIBF 2022 programming agenda, Al Mujaini noted that the 41st edition will witness a total of 1,047 activities led by 129 guests from 57 countries.

The book fair’s cultural programme in particular will be led by an elite group of 70 authors, intellectuals, and artists from 15 countries, who will present 200 activities including panel discussions, workshops and reading sessions to highlight creative journeys, knowledge and expertise in various genres.

Emirati and Arab literary personalities

The list of eminent Emirati writers, thinkers and poets participating in the 41st edition include Sultan Al Amimi, poet Khulood Al Mualla; poet and writer Ibrahim Al Hashemi, the writer Saeed Al Hanki, the historian Dr Hamad bin Saray; author Asma Al Hammadi, and poet Dr Aisha Al Shamsi.

Khoula Al Mujaini revealed that prominent literary personalities from the Arab region at SIBF this year include Libyan novelist Mohamed Alnaas, winner of the 2022 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF); Mohamed Al-Ash’ari, poet and former Moroccan Minister of Culture and Communication; poet Hisham Algakh, author Ahmed Mourad, Dr Ahmed Emara, Egyptian mental health and bioenergy consultant, and screenwriter Hani Sarhan from Egypt; Kuwaiti poet Mohammed Jarallah Al-Sahli; and Algerian academic and writer Boumediene Belkebir.

Children’s programme

SIBF 2022 will organise 623 activities, shows and workshops for children this year, which will be led by 45 professionals and experts from 14 countries. The 12-day cultural extravaganza will stage 123 awe-inspiring theatrical and performances as well as musicals led by 22 artists and performers from eight countries.

New at SIBF 2022

The upcoming edition of SIBF will debut six new programmes, including a three-day Thriller Festival between November 8-10 to offer writers specialised in suspense and crime genres an opportunity to showcase their works and participate in workshops, discussion panels, and book signing sessions. The event is organised in partnership with ThrillerFest in New York.

The book fair will also organise the Young Emirati Writers Programme, which is a platform that provides support to budding writers to build and advance their skills through discussion sessions, poetry evenings, and more.

Responding to public demand, SIBF is organising a series of workshops for adults this year covering a variety of topics including photography, crafts, creative writing, and theatre.

An entire day will be dedicated to the UAE’s large Filipino community with a special Philippines Cultural Programme that reflects the unique cultural traditions, arts and music of the island nation.

The book fair will also introduce visitors to the diverse and rich African continent through the African - Arab Cultural Programme that brings together 17 eminent guests from Mali, Senegal and Nigeria.

Cookery Corner

Food lovers can be part of an expansive culinary journey with eight chefs from four countries and experts from nine countries who will lead 30 cookery activities throughout the book fair. Notable participants include Dr Nourhan Kandil and Sally Fouad from Egypt; Cristina Bowerman, Alessandro Miceli, Damiano Carrar, and Luca Manfe from Italy; Indian chef Vicky Ratnani and Vindex Tengker form Indonesia.

Social Media Station

A total of 30 workshops at SIBFs popular Social Media Station presented by 10 experts from seven countries will cover topics including social media strategies, creative content and more. Notable guests leading the activities include Hala Harb and Hussein Al Azat.

Comics Corner Comics enthusiasts and lovers will have an opportunity to take part in 188 activities and workshops covering 16 topics, in addition to four roaming shows. The activities and workshops cover topics as varied as NFTs, character creation, and chibified characters.