The 39th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), which began on November 4 concluded on Saturday (November 14), drawing 382,000 visitors over 11 days.
Turning the challenges posed by the global coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic into a unique opportunity, the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) crossed a new milestone in designing and delivering SIBF 2020 as the first global event that has succeed in an in-person and on-ground format since major events and fairs around the world were cancelled since March.
The hybrid offline – online model of SIBF 2020 themed ‘The World Reads from Sharjah’ and organized by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), offered 1,024 publishers from 73 nations a much-needed opportunity to showcase millions of titles including 80,000 new releases to a physical audience of 382,000 people who visited the book fair.
On the other hand, SIBF 2020’s diverse cultural agenda, was taken entirely on SBA’s ‘Sharjah Reads’ virtual platform, and attracted a global participation of 63,500 attendees who joined in virtually from around the globe to hear from renowned authors, intellectuals, poets and politicians, and partake in key discussions led by social media and digital experts.
Among the literary luminaries and global cultural figures that participated in the 11-day fair were Wasini al-A'raj, Ahmed Murad, Lina Khoury, Dr Mohsen Al Ramli Mishel Hamad, in addition to Prince Ea, Robert Kiyosaki, Lang Leav, Ian Rankin, Najwa Zebian, Neil Pasricha, and Elisabetta Dami, and many others.
More than 100 Emirati, Arab, and foreign writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, science, academics, heritage, and other genres, signed their works for fans at the special Book Signing Corner set up at SIBF 2020.
Additionally, SBA collaborated with the UAE’s Ministry of Education to host virtual meetings between students and their favorite authors and cultural figures during the event to ensure that flow of knowledge with the younger generations.
To ensure the safety of guests, visitors and exhibitors, strict precautionary measures were enforced throughout the 11-day cultural event in line with the UAE government's efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19. Thermal scanners were installed at all SIBF 2020 access points.
Additionally, a five-hour overnight disinfection drive swept the fair's halls and publisher stalls daily. The fair management, in collaboration with Sharjah Police and volunteers from local volunteering entities ensured that visitors strictly followed all health and safety protocols in place.
Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said the event delivers a message that cultural appreciation forms the basis of Sharjah’s vision for development and fuels all its programs, adding that books are the cornerstone of Sharjah’s society. He further noted that SIBF 2020 was held to renew industry optimism and aimed to restore a sense of normalcy in the lives of people, amid the sweeping disruptions caused by Covid-19.
“As one chapter of SIBF concludes, a new one begins. This cultural event does not conclude when visitors leave and the Expo’s doors are closed. We continue our efforts to design the next edition and decorate it with a brand new cultural vision. We are preparing for the fair’s 40th edition next year – a number that will embody four decades of knowledge and creative development undertaken by the emirate’s cultural project launched by Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah. SIBF is the crown jewel of this cultural journey, and a key event we are dedicated to growing, improving and advancing year after year."
During the bookfair, SBA announced that it has received applications from 1,014 publishers for the Translation Grant which annually funds the translation of books by publishers participating in the annual Professional Programme, which runs prior to the start of SIBF in November each year.
Valued at between $1,500 -- $4,000, each grant helps a publisher cover the translation costs, partially or fully. SBA announced that registrations to apply for the fund will remain open until February 2021.
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