A girl looks at the world's largest atlas on display at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on Wednesday. The book weighs 18.1 kg. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Those wandering around the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2010 (ADIBF) are sure to find many fascinating things about the literary world, and among them is the world's largest limited edition atlas, Earth.

"We debuted the atlas at last year's Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. In fact, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE's Foriegn Minister, signed one of our copies, number 119 and it was donated to the UAE Red Crescent," Suzanne Gross, International Private Collections, Millennium House, said.

"There are several atlases that are housed in various locations in the UAE, including the National Library in Abu Dhabi and the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce," she added.

Created by Australian-based publishing house Millennium House, the book is an impressive 610x469mm and weighs 18.1kg alone but with its leather-bound case, the weight increases to 28.8kg.

"We had teams of people for each aspect of the book… there were 100 cartographers as well as consultants, scholars and writers. It took the entire team two years to compile everything and if one person would try to compile it on their own, it would have taken them 60 years, according to our estimates," Janet Parker, Publishers Representative, Millennium House, said.

One of the most fun but challenging aspects of the project was choosing, from among all the breathtaking photographs submitted, which ones would finally end up in Earth.

"Choosing the images was one of the hardest parts of the project. We were always wondering whether we should publish iconic images of each country, or images of the more unique areas and features," Suzanne said.

Parker agreed.

"I remember at one of the places the atlas stopped over, a woman was looking at the Yemen section… she suddenly pointed to a photograph and told us that it was her hometown," she said.

In November 2009, the team for the world's largest atlas saw their hard work rewarded when Earth won the Best Atlas prize at the 24th International Cartographic Conference in Chile.

"It was amazing when we won… Earth is the dream of our chairman, who felt that many people in the future should be able to see where they came from," Gross said.

Earth is currently available in two categories; the Royal Blue edition, of which only 2,000 copies are available at Dh19,000 each and the Imperial Gold edition, where only 1,000 copies are available at Dh31,000 each. Each book comes with its own certificate of authenticity.

Literary event

  • WHAT: The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair
  • WHEN: March 2-7, 2010
  • WHERE: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre
  1. TIMINGS: 9am-1pm and 5pm-10pm from Tuesday, March 2- Thursday, March 4.
  2. 4pm-10pm on Friday, March 5
  3. 9am-10pm on Saturday, March 6 and Sunday March 7