The Sharjah Book Authority, the cultural institution in the United Arab Emirates, has announced it is transitioning its annual Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival into a virtual event called the Sharjah Virtual Reading Festival. The original SCRF was celebrating its 12th year and was scheduled to begin on April 8 and run until April 20, but was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Typically, the SCRF attracts more than 300,000 visitors and features writers from the Arab world and across the globe.

The new virtual event will run for 10 days, from May 27 to June 5. A full schedule of online events, including author readings, panel discussions, and other interactive opportunities, is forthcoming.

“In these circumstances, our responsibility towards society, readers, and intellectuals has naturally doubled, and we intend to harness all means to contribute to their well-being by uplifting their artistic thought and creative processes,” said Ahmed Al Ameri, chairman of SBA. “The launch of Sharjah Virtual Reading Festival underlines the necessity of making available cultural content and continuing to adapt projects in light of the extraordinary circumstances we are in. Now more than ever, the role of culture, books, and reading becomes more central to our lives. The festival has been designed to have a far-reaching impact on the creation of creative societies in line with Sharjah’s cultural project, as knowledge and reading are key to the advancement of nations.”

SBA is the organization that is also responsible for running the annual Sharjah International Book Fair, held in November, and is responsible for the emirate’s presentations at other fairs around the world. This year, Sharjah was scheduled to be guest of honor at the London Book Fair and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, both of which were canceled; it is still scheduled to be guest of honor at the Guadalajara International Book Fair later this year.