The 39th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) will be held from November 4-14 under the theme ‘The World Reads form Sharjah’ under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
A comprehensive overview of what the 2020 edition of SIBF will entail has been revealed at a press event, which was broadcast live on Zoom from the SBA headquarters in Sharjah. The literary and cultural programme designed for the 11-day event this year is bringing together 1,024 publishers from 73 countries along with 60 renowned Arab and international authors from 19 countries, who will continue to spread the joy of reading amongst the fair’s audiences via 64 diverse events and activities in an exceptional hybrid online – offline format, while ensuring their safety amid the ongoing global pandemic.
The press event witnessed the launch of SBA’s new ‘Sharjah Reads’ global virtual platform that will host all future cultural events organised by the authority, starting with the 64 activities of SIBF 2020, allowing attendees from around the globe access to the fair’s 11-day cultural programme.
HE Ahmed bin Rakkan Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, made a presentation to the attendees of the conference, announcing key guests and detailing the events that have been planned for the upcoming book fair. He also spoke about the comprehensive precautionary measures that fair organisers will enforce in order to ensure the safety of all visitors and participants.
In this exceptional edition, the visitors will be able to experience the excitement of being surrounded by more than 80,000 titles being brought to Sharjah’s Expo Centre by 1,024 publishers from 73 nations who will be displaying their best sellers across an area spanning over 10,000 square meters. The line-up of publishers include 578 Arab publishers and 129 international names, featuring 202 from Egypt and 186 from the UAE, 93 from Lebanon, 72 from Syria, 46 from KSA, 39 from UK, 29 from USA, 13 from Italy, 12 from France, and 8 from Canada.
Strict precautionary measures to ensure the safety of both participants and visitors to the fair will be observed throughout the 11-day duration of SIBF 2020, enforced by SBA in line with UAE government’s efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19. Thermal scanners and walk-through sanitisation gates will be installed at all SIBF 2020 access and exit points. Additionally, a 5-hour disinfection will be carried out across the fair’s halls and publisher stalls daily throughout the 11-day event. SBA has requested visitors to strictly follow the safety protocol laid out by them including the wearing of face masks and maintaining a physical distance from other visitors and publishers at the kiosks.
A group of volunteers and security personnel will be supervising the exhibition grounds to monitor visitors’ compliance with the stipulated precautionary procedures. Moreover, a smart electronic system has been deployed by SBA to manage and organise visits, divided into four slots each day in order to limit the number of visitors at any given point in time. All visitors to the fair will need to book their visitation slots by registering online at sharjahreads.ae. Upon arriving at Sharjah Expo Centre in accordance with their booked slots, each visitor will be given a coloured bracelet to monitor the timings of their entry and exit.
Coveted names from around the globe will be headlining SIBF’s cultural offerings. SIBF 2020 is bringing together 60 intellectuals, artists and cultural figures from 19 countries. Luminaries from the region include Wasini al-A’raj, Algerian writer; Egyptian author and screenwriter of fiction and non-fiction, Ahmed Mourad; Kuwaiti writer Mishel Hamad; Iraqi writer, poet academic and translator, Muhsin Al-Ramli; and Lebanese theatre director, writer, producer, and educator, Lina Khoury.
International appearances at SIBF 2020 will be made by renowned American poet and spoken word artist, Prince Ea; Robert Kiyosaki, American businessman and author; Lang Leav, best-selling author from New Zealand; Ian Rankin, bestselling writer from the UK; Lebanese-Canadian author Najwa Zebian; Neil Pasricha, Canadian author and television host; popular Italian children’s books author, Elisabetta Dami; Indian authors Ravinder Singh and Dr. Shashi Tharoor; and British writer Richard Ovenden, among others.
For the first time in SIBF’s history, SBA has tied up with embassies of various countries in the UAE to design eight intellectual discussions, which will be led by Emirati writers and their counterparts from Spain, Germany, France, Italy and Russia, to name a few. The sessions were conceptualised over several meetings and planned visits between SBA and a large number of cultural institutions worldwide.
Specially for SIBF’s large audience of children and youth, SBA is collaborating with the UAE’s Ministry of Education to host virtual meetings between students and their favorite authors and cultural figures.
The 10th edition of the SIBF Publishers Conference will welcome 317 publishers and 33 speakers from across the world, who will discuss key issues and challenges facing the global publishing industry in 11 in-person and virtual sessions. The 3-day event will be held in the lead up to the book fair, 1 – 3 November at the Sharjah Expo Centre.
Members of the American Library Association (ALA) will be meeting their counterparts from the Arab world virtually for the 7th annual edition of the Sharjah International Library Conference, from November 10 to 12. Themed ‘Challenges faced by librarians and libraries during the New Normal’, the conference discussions will be attended by 300 librarians and library professionals along with 12 speakers, for 3 hours on each day of the event. English and Arabic translations of all the sessions will be provided.
SBA shared that in light of the current circumstances, they have decided to not host an opening ceremony for SIBF 2020, and will postpone the distribution of the SIBF Awards to next edition.
Addressing the media, HE Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA said: “We are organising this year’s edition amid the exceptional circumstances and challenges that the world faces in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. Given Sharjah’s cultural role in the region for the past 50 years, we felt it was especially important for us to remind everyone that reading transcends distances, and has the power to lift us over the hurdles we face – even a pandemic. Reading is our gateway to new worlds; it allows us to dream and reinforces our confidence to be creatively persistent.”
“SIBF 2020’s theme, ‘The World Reads from Sharjah’, promotes the emirate’s cultural project launched by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah more than four decades ago. The event’s theme underlines that our quest to obtain knowledge is never-ending, and that books will always bring us together, no matter the circumstances,” he added.