40th Sharjah International Book Fair attracts 1.69 m visitors from 109 nationalities - GulfToday

40th Sharjah International Book Fair attracts 1.69m visitors from 109 nationalities

Picture used for illustrative purpose only.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

After establishing itself as the world's largest book fair this year and receiving 1,692,463 visitors representing 109 nationalities, curtains fell on the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), which ran its course from November 3-13 under the theme 'There's always a right book.'

The cultural extravaganza brought together 1,632 publishers from 83 countries.

This milestone edition, where Spain was Guest of Honour, surpassed every international book fair held this year to become the world’s largest by attracting the largest number of publishers and literary agents looking to network, match-make and do business with each other.

Females account for 51.9 per cent of SIBF visitors

Statistics released by SBA reveals that Females account for 51.9 per cent of SIBF visitors, and males accounted for 48.1 per cent of SIBF visitors.

As for age groups, 1.3 per cent of visitors at SIBF 2021 were under 15 years; 52.2 per cent between 16 and 30, those between 31-45 accounted for 35.5 per cent, while 11.1 per cent were 46 years and older. 90.2 per cent of visitors registered on-ground to attend the fair, while 9.8 per cent registered via SBA’s digital platforms.

Multiple visits to SIBF 2021 by 20,000 visitors

An interesting finding made by the book fair this year was that around 20,000 amongst the 1.6 million visitors to SIBF 2021 walked into the 11-day fair more than once; and thousands have visited the fair 3 to 7 times.

Some even made multiple visits in one day – a clear sign that SIBF is a major cultural attraction.

SIBF-performance-750x450A cultural performance in progress at the Sharjah book fair.

The fair received visitors from 109 nationalities with the UAE securing the top spot, followed by India, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, Iraq, Philippines, Morocco, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Algeria, Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Austria, America, Canada, and other countries.

More than 1000 activities during the cultural fest

The vibrant and diverse programming agenda of SIBF 2021 included more than 1,000 activities, including 440 cultural sessions, 355 shows, performances, seminars and workshops for children, and more than 80 awe-inspiring theatrical and dance performances from Europe, Asia, and Africa.

For the first time in the history of SIBF, aspiring illustrators, designers and art directors had an opportunity to benefit from a series of free workshops and panel sessions as part of a dedicated Illustration Survival Corner, organised in collaboration with Bologna Children's Book Fair.

SIBF 2021 brought together 85 writers from 22 countries

SIBF 2021 hosted 85 authors and intellectuals from 22 countries who led the fair's events and activities.

Taleb Al Refai was Cultural Personality of the Year at this edition of the book fair, which also hosted distinguished guests, including Tanzanian novelist and the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2021, Abdulrazak Gurnah; South African comedian and celebrity TV host Trevor Noah; Chris Gardner; writer Yasmina Khadra; Amitav Ghosh; Chetan Bhagat; and the young inventor Gitanjali Rao from America.

Amitav-Ghosh-SIBFIndia's Amitav Ghosh during a panel discussion at book fair.

Notable names from the UAE and the Arab region include novelists Maysoon Saqr Al Qasimi, Sultan Al Amimi, Asma Al Zarooni, the novelist Reem Al Kamali, and Shaikha Al Mutairi, in addition to poet Khalid Abdulrahman, author Ahlam Mosteghanemi, poet Hisham Algakh, actor Muhammad Subhi, poet Faisal Al Adwani, Egyptian jewellery designer Azza Fahmy, Egyptian author Dr Midhat Al Adl, historian Ali Al Namlah, Jordanian Jalal Barjas, and many others.

Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: "We congratulate His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, for the exceptional success of the 40th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF). His Highness’s visionary leadership has yielded great cultural achievements for the UAE and the Arab world, and proved that we are a nation that reads, creates, innovates and publishes. On these strengths, SIBF has emerged as the world's largest book fair this year. This record achievement would not have been possible without the unwavering support of His Highness over the past four decades.”

"The conclusion of the book fair marks not the end but the beginning of a new journey of cultural excellence for the UAE and the Arab region – one in which the distinct voices of writers and intellectuals are heard and begin to resonate with the whole world. We look forward to seeing more and more creative minds contributing to humanity by achieve shared developmental goals through cultural appreciation and exchange," Al Ameri added.

The SBA Chairman also stated that the strong participation by publishing professionals as well as the visitor turnout were both an affirmation of the willingness of both current and future generations to embrace books and knowledge. It also demonstrates Sharjah’s regional and global appeal as a platform where the best in literature, creativity, arts and culture intersect.

“The strong foundations of learning laid down by books will stand firm in the face of any adversities; and enlightened minds can build on it to drive prosperity for all,” Al Ameri concluded.

Khoula Al Mujaini: SIBF committed to achieving greater success

Khoula Al Mujaini, Director of Fair and Festivals, SBA, said that SIBF 2021 has achieved the distinguished honour of becoming the largest international book fair in the world. She stated that each year, the event provides new opportunities for publishers across the world to grow and prosper.

Sharjah-book-fair-main1-750A family enjoys its time at Sharjah book fair.
She added: "The incredible success of SIBF 2021 reflects the love and commitment of our visitors, guest publishers and participants to continue celebrating and upholding the written word. As the book fair concludes, we reaffirm our commitment to build on Sharjah’s vision of bringing a bigger cultural feat for the world next year.”

Inaugural edition of the National Libraries Summit

A new addition to the SIBF 2021 agenda was a two-day National Libraries Summit, organised at the SBA headquarters in Sharjah from November 8–9, under the theme ‘Visibility, Engagement, Impact, and Collaboration.’

The summit attracted more than 50 participants and 20 national libraries from across 20 countries and served as a platform to engage in several discussions and four networking meetings. The summit was held in collaboration with the American Library Association.

35 speakers, 546 publishers and literary agents participate in the SIBF Publishers Conference

546 professionals and stakeholders across the publishing community including agents, authors, and 35 speakers, participated in the 11th SIBF Publishers Conference, organised in collaboration with the International Publishers Association.

8th Sharjah International Library Conference attracts participation of 500 library professionals

The 8th edition of the Sharjah International Library Conference (SILC), held in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA) on November 10-11, convened 500 librarians and sector professionals from across the globe, and focused on technologies and trends shaping the sector's future and facilitated collaborations and networking between guests to elevate the services delivered to their respective communities.

The sponsors and partners of SIBF included Etisalat (official sponsor) Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (official media partner); Abu Dhabi Media (media partner); Expo Center Sharjah (strategic partner); Dar Al Khaleej (press partner); and Al Arabiya TV (media sponsor).

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