Sharjah: The 35th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) concluded on a record-breaking note on Saturday, attracting over 2.31 million visitors over its 11 days, with the volume of book sales reaching Dh176 million.
Both the visitor and sale counts are the highest since SIBF began in 1982. Last year, the fair attracted over 1.2 million people and book sales surpassed Dh135 million.
This year’s theme for SIBF was ‘Read More’.
The latest SIFBF edition was also the biggest in size and volume, hosting 1,681 publishing houses from 60 countries, with around 1.5 million titles on display at the 25,000-square-metre facility at Expo Centre Sharjah.
Visitors enjoyed an array of sessions hosted by its Kids Activities programme, Cultural Activities programme, Cultural Cafe, Cookery Corner and Social Media Cafe.
More than 600 school visits were also a feature of SIBF 2016, whose hashtag ‘#SIBF2016’ recorded more than one billion impressions in English and Arabic on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
Ahmad Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), which organises SIBF, said: “The UAE leadership’s decision to promote reading and a love of books has been an instrumental factor in making this year’s edition of Sharjah International Book Fair its most successful to date. His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has been the strongest supporter of the event, having believed in its potential from its very first edition three-and-a-half decades ago.”
SIBF 2016, the world’s third largest book fair, was held from November 2 to 12. Al Ameri stressed that the 35th edition of the book fair boosted SBA’s ambition to make SIBF the world’s number one fair in terms of number of visitors and total sales.
Significant announcements made during SIBF 2016 included Al Ameri revealing the brand name ‘Turjuman’ for the new Dh2 million Sharjah Translation Award for an international translation and authorship award, which will be run by SBA.
Offering further support to SIBF, Dr Shaikh Sultan announced that he was making a personal donation of Dh4 million for Sharjah’s libraries to purchase books from participating publishers at the fair, thereby considerably enriching the emirate’s literary landscape.
A variety of cultural personalities and media celebrities participated at SIBF 2016, including renowned Egyptian actor Ezzat Al Alaili, Algerian poet and novelist Ahlam Mosteghanemi, Saudi poet Dr Mohammad Al Muqrin, Palestinian poet Ebrahim Nasrallah, Iraqi researcher and writer Rasheed Al Khyoun, international relations expert Dr Parag Khanna, Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and Indian film actor and politician Mammootty.
Famous authors taking part included Cassandra Clare, writer of The Mortal Instruments fantasy novels and Eric Van Lustbader, New York Times best-selling author who has penned 10 of The Bourne Series novels.
The Guest of Honour this year was Unesco, which was chosen in recognition of its efforts in promoting education and culture in countries affected by war, conflict and natural disasters. Unesco presented a programme of activities at the fair as part of its relationship and shared interests with Sharjah.
Meanwhile, Dr Gassan Salameh, Lebanon’s former Minister of Culture, was hosted as the Cultural Personality of the Year in recognition of his contributions to the Arab cultural sphere.
On the sidelines of the fair, the third joint conference between SIBF and the American Library Association took place from November 8 to 10. The conference hosted presentations and discussions that dealt with the issues and recent developments relating to book archiving, storage and retrieval, with a main focus for this year being the library’s ever-expanding role as a community centre.
Each year, SIBF brings together hundreds of government and semi-government organisations, publishing houses, distributors, booksellers, e-publishers, rights agents, cultural institutions, public libraries, research centres, publishers’ associations, university libraries, media and producers of literary and educational aids.
The event will shortly be moving to a new venue in Al Tai, near the intersection of Maliha Road and Emirates Road, which will offer 60,000 square metres of space.
SIBF 2016 in numbers
2.31 million visitors
Dh176 million book sales
1.5 million books
88,000 new titles
60 participating countries
11 days long