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The architecturally-stunning House of Wisdom in Sharjah, UAE, has been shortlisted for the Library of the Year award in the London Book Fair’s (LBF) International Excellence Awards.

The library, a project of Shurooq, Sharjah’s Investment and Development Authority, joins the City of Johannesburg library in South Africa and “Fran Galovic” Koprivnica Public Library in Croatia on the shortlist for this prestigious award.

The library, which opened in December 2020, takes its name from the House of Wisdom library that was the glory of eight century Baghdad and which led the way in translation projects until its fall in the Siege of Baghdad in 1258.  Designed by the British architectural firm Foster & Partners, the library features a large, ‘floating’ cantilevered roof that has become one of the must-see sites of Sharjah.

Sheikha Bodour al Qasimi, whose father Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and member of the supreme council, officially opened the library, said: “The House of Wisdom project is a new cultural milestone, and has strengthened Sharjah’s position as a melting pot of world cultures in the region. The ethos behind this library are the same ones that guide Sharjah’s development process, and proves once more, that the sustainability and growth of any nation can only be ensured by promoting continuous opportunities for learning and gaining knowledge.”

Now in their ninth year, the LBF International Excellence Awards will be announced at the end of March.  This year’s shortlists feature seventeen different countries, with Greece being shortlisted for the first time.  There are three entries from Arab world countries in total, with the eponymous Fatimah Abbas shortlisted for the Rights Professional Award alongside Gray Tan of the Grayhawk Agency in Taiwan.

The full shortlists are as follows:

  • The Audiobook Publisher of the Year
    • Macmillan Audio (USA)
    • Penguin Random House Audio (USA)
    • Saga Egmont (Denmark)
  • The Bookstore of the Year Award
    • La Mistral (Spain)
    • Norli Universitetsgata (Norway)
    • Rahva Ramat Viru Store (Estonia)
  • The Educational Learning Resources Award
    • Caramel Tree (Canada)
    • Editions Animées (France)
    • Hamilton House Publishers (Greece)
  • The Library of the Year Award
    • City of Johannesburg (South Africa)
    • “Fran Galovic” Koprivnica Public Library (Croatia)
    • House of Wisdom (UAE)
  • The Rights Professional Award, sponsored by Sharjah Book Authority
    • Anna Soler-Pont, The Pontas Agency (Spain)
    • Fatimah Abbas, Fatimah Abbas Literary Agency (FALA) (Egypt)
    • Gray Tan, Grayhawk Agency (Taiwan)
  • The Children’s and Young Adult Publishers Award
    • Damla Publishing (Turkey)
    • Thierry Magnier (France)
    • Tulika Publishers (India)
  • The Literary Translation Initiative Award
    • Al Kotob Khan (Egypt)
    • Europe Comics (Belgium)
    • Institut Ramon Llull (Spain)

Eligible for entries from the UK only:

  • Inclusivity in Publishing Award
    • Knights Of
    • Bloomsbury
    • Saqi Books

Andy Ventris, Director, The London Book Fair, said: “The publishing industry has done remarkable work over the past year, managing to tell new stories and deliver books to readers in the face of COVID, supply chain issues and other notable challenges. The dedication and passion for books shown throughout the global trade is truly inspiring, and we are delighted to recognise some of the most innovative companies, initiatives and individuals from around the world in this year’s International Excellence Awards shortlists.

”We wish all our shortlistees the very best of luck, and look forward to announcing the winners of the International Excellence Awards at this year’s London Book Fair, as we come together in person to reconnect at Olympia London in April.”