Sharjah Book Fair Gears Up for Largest Edition


With its its largest-ever country participation, SIBF’s 42nd annual edition will host 1,700 events and South Korea as Guest of Honour….reports Asian Lite News

The 42nd annual edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) has crossed a historic milestone by attracting the highest number of participating countries since its inception in 1981. This edition will play host to 2,033 publishers and exhibitors from 108 nations from around the world. They will collectively present an impressive array of 1.5 million titles, all to be showcased in Expo Centre Sharjah from 1-12 November.

Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and carrying the theme We Speak Books, SIBF 2023 will bring together 600 authors from around the world to sign their new works. This is part of a comprehensive cultural, creative, and entertaining 12-day agenda that includes over 1,700 activities led by 215 guests from 69 countries targeting all age groups and diverse interests.

This year, SIBF celebrates South Korea as the Guest of Honour, showcasing the republic’s unique knowledge and cultural landscape covering literature, art, technology, and culture. The cultural extravaganza will also host an exhibition in collaboration with the Portuguese University of Coimbra featuring 60 historical artefacts. Furthermore, the book fair has dedicated 6 interactive spaces to upskill visitors and enrich their knowledge.

Sharjah: The Silk Road for Publishers

During his keynote speech, H.E. Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, CEO of SBA, affirmed that Sharjah has become a hub connecting the East and West. This achievement is attributed to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who recognised the importance of knowledge and books in nation-building and the advancement of civilisations. Al Ameri pointed out that the emirate not only facilitates access to books for readers everywhere but also aspires to become the “Silk Road” for publishers worldwide. These achievements have been widely recognised and lauded globally.

Al Ameri said, “The emirate’s relentless efforts have led to significant global milestones, guided by Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, who has spearheaded the advancement of the publishing industry in Sharjah, the UAE, and the world. She has laid solid foundations for the development of the country’s publishing sector. Today, she continues this journey as the Chairperson of SBA.”

Al Ameri concluded by saying, “Today, we are not only here to announce the details of SIBF 2023 but also to take a new step in a cultural project that has been evolving for forty-two years. This project emphasises that books are the cornerstone of developmental plans for countries in the region and globally. That’s why we have chosen the theme ‘We Speak Books’ for the 42nd edition.”

During his speech at the press conference H.E, Moon Byung-iun, Consul General of the Republic of Korea said, “Korea’s methods of modernising its culture while preserving its past roots aligns perfectly with Sharjah’s values of supporting cultural creativity while preserving its local heritage and history. I believe that the cultural exchange between Sharjah and South Korea will continue to deepen and therefore open new paths of exchange that were never explored before. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Sharjah Book Authority for their amazing efforts to bring more than 20 South Korean authors, novelists, poets, calligraphers to Sharjah to exhibit their work and share their knowledge through talks, workshops and many more cultural programs.”

‘We Speak Books’

Reflecting on the SIBF 2023 slogan, Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SIBF, said: “We Speak Books embodies SIBF’s comprehensive vision for the book and culture industry. It has evolved beyond an event for buying and selling books to become a global hub for exchanging expertise, ideas, and knowledge. It also serves as a platform for securing publishing and translation agreements and a forum for discussing literary, artistic, and intellectual issues, attracting a diverse audience from all segments of society, whether they are avid book readers or interested in creative industries related to books.”

1043 Arab publishers and 900 international

This year, 1043 Arab and 990 international publishers will showcase over 1.5 million titles, including 800,000 in Arabic and 700,000 in other languages during SIBF 2023. The UAE, Egypt and Lebanon top the list of Arab publishers taking part in the 42nd edition and on the international front, publishers from India, the UK, and Turkey top the international list.

127 Guests and 460 Cultural Activities

The 42nd edition will feature a constellation of esteemed writers, thinkers, intellectuals, and artists, including Nobel laureates and recipients of distinguished Arab and international accolades. The exhibition will congregate 127 Arab and international guests from 33 countries to steer 460 cultural endeavours, encompassing panel discussions, immersive workshops, and sessions spanning various artistic expressions and literary genres.

SIBF 2023 will welcome eminent Emirati writers and intellectuals, such as poet Khaled Al-Badou, Dr. Mashael Al Nabooda, Adel Khozam, Mohammed Al Jokar, Suad Al-Araimi, Fathia Al Nimr, Dr. Aisha Al-Ghais, and Saeed Al Badi.

From the Arab domain, SIBF will host Algerian novelist Ahlam Mosteghanemi; Egyptian writer and screenwriter Ahmed Mourad; Kuwaiti author Dr. Mohamed Al Ghandour; Kuwaiti novelist Bothayna Al Issa; Lebanese poet Talal Haidar; Egyptian poet Nour Abdel Meguid; Egyptian media figure Reham Ayad; Kuwaiti poet Sheryan AlDihanni; Egyptian novelist and journalist Tareq Imam; Saudi poet Fahad AlShahrani; published physiognomy and body language experts Sarah and Hajar Abdul Rahman; Qatari poet Nasser Alober; along with many others.

Prominent international figures gracing SIBF 2023 include English-born Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell; Indian actress Kareena Kapoor; Swedish behavioural expert and author Thomas Erikson; Nigerian playwright and novelist Wole Soyinka; British-Pakistani novelist and writer Mohsin Hamid; Czech-Canadian scientist Vaclav Smil; American astronaut Sunita Williams; Dutch author Swami Purnachaitanya; Indian writer Monika Halan; among others.

60 historical artefacts

The 42nd edition will feature an exhibition in collaboration with the University of Coimbra. This exhibition delves into the Portuguese presence in the Gulf and the cultural relationships forged there during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It will display 60 historical artefacts, including manuscripts, rare books, maps, and maritime tools. This exhibition underscores the profound relationship between the University of Coimbra and Sharjah, further solidified by the conferment of an honorary degree to His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and the Ruler of Sharjah, in 2018. Concurrently, a series of sessions will be organised, featuring esteemed historians discussing various facets of Portuguese history in the region.

Thriller Festival

The eagerly awaited second edition of the Thriller Festival is slated from November 8-10, in partnership with Thriller Festival NY. This 3-day event will congregate acclaimed thriller and crime genre writers with their aficionados. This year, the festival will spotlight ten international authors, including bestsellers, to engage with mystery and suspense enthusiasts in the region. Featured authors comprise Felix Francis, Ivy Pochoda, Candice Fox, J.D. Barker, Danielle Trussoni, Alex Finlay, Max Seeck, Blake Crouch, C.J. Howe, and Kathleen Antrim.

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