The Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) concluded its 41st edition, during which it welcomed over 2.17 million visitors from 112 countries, turning the hosting emirate into a hub for world’s cultures, and a wide space that embraces thought, art, creativity, and knowledge.
Embodying its vision of building new generations of readers, SIBF 2022 received 218,000 students over 12 days. For young pupils, the book fair is an important annual cultural destination that provides their libraries with new Arabic and foreign publications, and an opportunity to meet their favorite writers, content creators, artists, and social media influencers.
SIBF 2022, which celebrated Italy as the Guest of Honor, emphasized the meaning of this year’s motto 'Spread the Word', and told the world that books are not only for fans of literature, history, and thought, but also for all those who see reading as an interest, hobby, and passion. The fair brought together Arabic cinema stars, singers, media figures, and athletes, and placed culture in its right position in contact with people’s life, interactions, and daily life activities.
SIBF 2022 welcomed football legend and AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimović; actor Shah Rukh Khan - popularly known as the King of Bollywood; Egyptian actor Karim Abdul Aziz; Egypt’s renowned star Ahmed El Sakka, and Saudi Arabia's prized musician, Abadi-Al Johar, amongst a host of other cultural celebrities. It offered visitors the chance to meet those esteemed figures face to face, and then introduced them to books about intellect, art, music, drama, and sport.
Sudanese historian Yusuf Fadl Hasan was celebrated as the “Cultural Personality” of SIBF 2022 while the fair also hosted a distinguished group of regional and international guests in the 41st edition, including Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka, winner of the 2022 Booker Prize; Geetanjali Shree, Hindi-language author and winner of the International Booker prize; novelist Waciny Laredj; writer Ahmad Mourad; and author Sultan Al Amimi amongst others.
The forum halls opened doors for debates and discussions on some of the most prominent issues of literature, translation, the future of communication, the current situation of the Arabic and western intellect, as well as the challenges facing research, documentation and history. For 12 days, SIBF hosted more than 200 cultural discussions.
This year, the book fair shed light on the African experience in literature, and celebrated the contemporary, diaspora writers with a special program encompassing special activities. SIBF visitors also had the chance to explore the history and civilization of the Italian culture, not only through Italian books and writers, but also in art, cuisine, fashion, and music.
The annual book fair, which places publishers at the heart of the cultural event, opened the doors of the Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone for professionals in the industry, and offered them special facilities and services that aren’t available in another place in the world. The fair hosted 26 publishing houses from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, India, the United Kingdom, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia that look forward to expand their work in the UAE.
The fair presented a model in supporting libraries and enhancing their influence in knowledge creation. In this context, H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council member, granted AED4.5 million to equip the emirate’s libraries with the latest titles from regional and international publishing houses who partook in the 41st SIBF.
The book fair also dedicated a space for social media content, hosting a number of content creators and influencers including Egyptian Youtuber Ahmed al-Ghandour, known as “Da7ee7”, and Dr. Khaled Ghattas. It also allocated a corner for social media platforms, which organized workshops on content creation techniques, and communication with the audience.
Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), said, “Curtains came down on the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair with over 2.17 million visitors. These are not mere visitors, but ambassadors who carry forward the message and vision of the SBA, and the emirate’s cultural project that was founded five decades ago by Sheikh Sultan, and has many achievements, the latest of which is the recognition as the world's largest book fair for the second year in a row.”
“One of the core goals of the book fair is to raise awareness on the importance of reading and build communities that believe in the value and impact of books. We have achieved this goal to a large extent. Our goal is to transcend the idea that reading is an activity for intellectuals only. At the SBA, we believe that reading is for all the community segments whose interests span across varied fields to enjoy books that satisfy their passion,” he added.
Khoula Al Mujaini, general coordinator of SIBF, said, “The SIBF’s vibrant agenda of activities in its 41st edition offered a comprehensive experience that attracted visitors and distinguished artists, sportsmen and authors from all around the world. The high footfall is a clear indicator of the status and importance of the international book fair in meeting the demands of its guests, regardless of age and nationalities.”
This year, SIBF 2022 hosted 2,213 publishers from 95 countries, alongside 150 distinguished authors, intellectuals and creatives from 57 countries, and organized 1,500 activities within 12 days.