Masked up visitors at Sharjah Book Fair.
Saratu Abubakar, Staff Reporter
Sharjah Book Fair (SIBF) has come and gone, just like so many things this year, it was different.
With Covid-19 came social distancing and masking up. Something that was not alien but was just never our cup of tea. Although the good people at Sharjah Book Authority didn’t let the pandemic stop us from having SIBF20, it came with a new angle: the panels were online.
As a lover of literature and everything books, I have never missed a Sharjah Book Fair since I learnt about it back in 2017.
The beautiful stack of books against the orange backdrop is always pleasing to the eye. Also, one of my favourite definitions of peace is the smell of coffee mixed with that of new books. SIBF offers all of that and goes a step ahead to invite influential people from all over the world to be on different panels.
I remember back in university, I made sure I didn’t miss the panels of my favourite orators. I know we are at an age where everyone is online and finding a clip of your favourite authors is easy. But nothing beats listening to them live. Being able to see them, ask them questions and maybe sneak in a few pictures always feels amazing.
However, now more than ever we have realized that you don’t have to be physically present to do a lot of things. Video calling apps have made things easy and everyone is jumping on it.
Although we can always order the books online, brew the coffee in our kitchen and join the panels from our bed, physical interaction will always be greater than being online. Making new friends that share similar interest, interacting with sales assistant that have a book suggestion for every topic and hearing your favourite authors share their knowledge is a blessing we shouldn’t be deprived of. I hope we get to reconvene next year and actually sit in panels and sneak in as many pictures as we can.
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While over two million visitors graced the fair, the last eleven days saw the power of the written word rise to glorious heights. Specifically, in the very year that Sharjah is the Book Capital of the World.
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The massive success of the emirate's participation was also asserted by the thousands of pavilion visitors, who said that Sharjah’s diverse cultural events were the highlight of this year's event.
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