Sharjah, UAE: The cultural year has come a full circle in Sharjah, and the yearlong wait for the region’s largest book fair is finally over. Book worms and cultural enthusiasts have 11 days of top literary entertainment to look forward to with Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) opening both physical and virtual doors of the 39thSharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2020) today (Wednesday) to its global audiences, as the fair assumes a unique hybrid online–offline format this year in line with the UAE government’s efforts to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) disease.
Organised by SBA, SIBF 2020 is themed ‘The World Reads from Sharjah’ and reiterates the emirate’s cultural message to the world, highlighting that continuous knowledge sharing is key to human development and sustainable progress.
Through its offline programme, the 11-day book fair will offer members of the public an opportunity to visit 1,024 publishers from 73 nations who are exhibiting over 80,000 new titles in English, Arabic and other languages at the Expo Centre Sharjah, and buy their favourite titles by pre-booking fixed visitation slots at registration.sibf.com.
Visitors entering the Expo Centre from all access points will undergo thermal scanning and walk through sanitising gates, and will be given coloured bracelets that will monitor their fixed three-hour visits, which can be extended on the SIBF website. The fair’s halls and publisher stalls will be sanitised and disinfected daily.
The cultural programme of SIBF 2020 comprises 64 exciting discussionswith 60 renowned authors, intellectuals, poets, politicians and artists from 19 countries, which will be delivered online via the ‘Sharjah Reads’ virtual platform, allowing people from around the globe access to the entire programme remotely. To register for these talks, please visit sharjahreads.com.
Amongst the literary luminaries and global cultural figures participating in the 11-day fair arePrince Ea, Robert Kiyosaki, Lang Leav, Elisabetta Dami,Yann Martel, Neil Pasricha, Yaser Akel, Ravinder Singh,Wasini al-A'raj, Ahmed Murad, Lina Khoury, Layla Mutawa,Ahmad Al-Rifai, Mishel Hamad, Sultan Alameemi, Iman Al Yousef among other.
Emirati – global dialogues, school activities and a host of social media workshops
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.
In addition, 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 favourite authors and cultural figures.
In light of the growing importance of social media tools and digital technologies to facilitate life, schooling and business in the post pandemic era, SBA has announced a comprehensive schedule of social media workshops catering to all age groups.
The latter half of the fair will witness the 7thedition of Sharjah International Library Conference, from November 10 – 12. Organised in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA), the conference will convene library professionals from around the world to discuss and debate key topics around its theme, ‘Challenges faced by librarians and libraries during the New Normal’.