This year's Sharjah International Book Fair, now in its 34th year, was the largest ever. It drew 1,547 participating publishers from 64 countries and the translations grants offered, for translating any work from Arabic into any other language, garnered 765 applications within just a few days.
A special translation grant, offering two million UED, the equivalent of $500,000 for one book translated from Arabic, debuted at this year’s fair. The grant, sponsored by Air Arabia and run by the Sharjah Book Authority, is another example of the efforts of Sharjah’s ruler Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad al Qasimi, to promote Arabic culture and language; the Sheikh also donated four million dirham to purchase books from the publishing houses taking part in the fair.
Other highlights of the event included the Arab Publishers conference--which formerly held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Alexandria, Egypt--that addressed the challenges and opportunities for publishers in the region.
The SIBF/ALA library conference, which is now in its second year after debuting at last year's fair, drew nearly 300 participants to its forums. Although the conference was fee-based this year, as opposed to last year when it was free, participation was encouraged through travel stipends. SIBF offered three nights free hotel accommodation to librarians who spent a minimum of $10,000 USD purchasing books and other materials.
As a professional program, librarians received certificates at the end of the three days which ran from Nov. 10-12. Speakers included Sari Feldman, ALA president, who in her keynote said the future of libraries rests in their ability to do strong community outreach. To that Feldman said libraries today are "more about what we do with, and for, people.”