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Globally anticipated Sharjah International Book Fair 2020 opens in a hybrid format

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It is the cue that cultural enthusiasts and book lovers have been waiting for -– the opening of the region’s largest book fair -– and to 11 days packed with activity from November 4-14.

But this year the fair assumes a unique hybrid online–offline format in line with the UAE government’s efforts to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) disease.

The organizer Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) is opening both physical and virtual doors of the 39th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2020) on Wednesday to its global audiences.

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 program, 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 favorite titles by pre-booking fixed visitation slots at the registration site of the SIBF. Visitors will be limited to 5,000 people per hour.

Fixed three-hour visits

Visitors entering the Expo Centre from all access points will undergo thermal scanning and walk through sanitizing gates, and will be given colored 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 sanitized and disinfected daily.

Read more: Sharjah International Book Fair 2020 exhibition space fully sold out, says organizer

The cultural program of SIBF 2020 comprises 64 exciting discussions with 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 program remotely. To register for these talks, one has to visit sharjahreads.com.

Amongst the literary luminaries and global cultural figures participating in the 11-day fair are American rapper and social media star Prince 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 others.

The international writers will be participating only online while local authors will attend in person.

Emirati – global dialogues

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 conceptualized over several meetings and planned visits between SBA and a large number of cultural institutions worldwide.

Young readers at the Sharjah International Book Fair. (File photo)
Young readers at the Sharjah International Book Fair. (File photo)



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 favorite 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 7th edition of Sharjah International Library Conference, from November 10 – 12.

Organized 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.’

The SIBF was launched in 1982 and has risen in popularity over the years to become the world’s third biggest book fair last year, attracting a record 2.52 million visitors.