The 40th Sharjah International Book Fair opened today in the United Arab Emirates. Last year, amid the pandemic, the SIBF welcomed nearly 400,000 visitors to a show that hosted over 1,000 publishers from 73 countries showcasing 80,000 new titles. This year's fair runs for 11 days, from November 3-13 at the Sharjah Expo Centre, where visitors can expect to find writing workshops, poetry readings and book signings, alongside live cookery demonstrations and the very best of local and international publishing.
This year, the professional program, which started on Sunday and ran through Tuesday, was hosted in a large tent adjacent to the Expo Center, attracted 550 people for panel discussions, rights meetings, and networking.
Sheika Bodour al Quasimi, the president of the International Publishers Association and CEO and founder of the UAE-based pubishing conglomerate the Kalimat Group, opened the three day Publishers Conference on Sunday, welcoming everyone back to Shajrah and offering a quote from Desmond Tutu: “We are wired to be caring for the other and generous to one another. We shrivel when we are not able to interact. I mean that is part of the reason why solitary confinement is such a horrendous punishment. We depend on the other in order for us to be fully who we are.”
In further remarks, al Quasimi addressed the challenges publishers around the world faced during the pandemic, but said resilience will win out. “We will recover and re-emerge, ready to face the world stronger, more focused, and most importantly, more united.”
Several panels addressed industry issues, ranging from independent publishing to the de-colonization of African literature. Below, we offer some images from this year’s professional program.