The London Book Fair has named the United Arab Emirate of Sharjah as the Market Focus of the London Book Fair 2020. The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and the fair will collaborate on a program, with the support of the British Council and the U.K. Publishers Association, which will highlight Emirati authors and books. A concurrent professional program will focus on fostering further business relationships.

The announcement was made at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, taking place through April 24, and just two days after the emirate adopted the title of UNESCO World Book Capital 2019 and launched a year-long cultural program. Attending the announcement were Sharkah's ruler, Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Ruler of Sharjah; Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of SBA; Jacks Thomas, director of the London Book Fair; and Gavin Anderson, British Council, Country Director for UAE.

Next year, the Market Focus will mark its 16th year, and to date has included a wide range of countries and territories, ranging from Mexico and Korea to Turkey and this year's Market Focus country, Indonesia. This is the second time that Sharjah has been part of the Market Focus program, as they were one of the 20 states who took part in the Arab World Market Focus in 2008.

In reaction to the announcement, al Ameri said: “We are delighted to be London Book Fair Market Focus in 2020, to reinforce the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to strengthen bridges of cultural communication around the world." He added: "We believe in the power of books to foster knowledge, broaden horizons and open dialogue. London is the publishing capital of the world and at LBF 2020 we will present Sharjah’s unique cultural journey, that has flourished and expanded beyond the Gulf to establish itself as a global hub."

Jacks Thomas, director of the London Book Fair, said: "As a significant, energetic and forward-looking participant on the global publishing stage, it is fantastic to be welcoming Sharjah as LBF Market Focus 2020."

To initiate the program, The London Book Fair, SBA, and British Council will offer a reciprocal Writer in Residence program as a way of fostering cross-cultural dialogue. Next year's London Book Fair takes place March 10-12.