Frontlist | Pandemic won’t dampen love for books in Sharjah

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“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” Author Stephen King’s words could not have more relevance.

Books can change the way you think, and mould the fabric of your existence.

Few events celebrate the cause of the reader and his love for books as much as the Sharjah International Book Fair.  Thanks to the encouraging stewardship of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the annual event has grown by leaps and bounds over the years to become a major attraction for visitors not just in Sharjah but from other parts of the UAE and overseas as well.

Book lovers will be looking forward to the 39th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair which will be held from November 4 – 14.

The theme of the fair is ‘The World Reads from Sharjah.’

This year, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the entire format of the book fair has been tweaked keeping safety of the people in mind.

Strict precautionary measures to ensure the safety of both participants and visitors to the fair will be observed throughout the 11-day duration of SIBF 2020, enforced by the Sharjah Book Authority in line with UAE government’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. That includes thermal scanners and walk-through sanitisation gates, which will be installed at all SIBF 2020 access and exit points. Wearing of face masks and maintaining a physical distance from other visitors and publishers at the kiosks is mandatory.

However, such is the zest for learning among the visitors that it is unlikely that the footfall will see any decline. The 11-day event this year garners under its umbrella 1,024 publishers from 73 countries along with 60 renowned Arab and international authors from 19 countries, who will continue to spread the joy of reading amongst the fair’s audiences via 64 diverse events and activities in an exceptional hybrid online-offline format, while ensuring their safety amid the ongoing global pandemic.

There will be a whopping 80,000 titles on display, brought by 1,024 publishers from 73 nations who will be displaying their bestsellers across an area spanning over 10,000 square metres. The line-up of publishers include 578 Arab publishers and 129 international names, featuring 202 from Egypt and 186 from the UAE, 93 from Lebanon, 72 from Syria, 46 from KSA, 39 from the UK, 29 from the USA, 13 from Italy, 12 from France, and 8 from Canada.

All visitors to the fair will need to book their visitation slots by registering online at sharjahreads.ae. Upon arriving at Sharjah Expo Centre in accordance with their booked slots, each visitor will be given a coloured bracelet to monitor the timings of their entry and exit.

A galaxy of luminaries will be headlining the cultural offerings. Illustrious figures from the region include Wasini al-A’raj, Algerian writer; Egyptian author and screenwriter of fiction and non-fiction, Ahmed Mourad; Kuwaiti writer Mishel Hamad; Iraqi writer, poet academic and translator, Muhsin Al-Ramli; and Lebanese theatre director, writer, producer, and educator, Lina Khoury.

International appearances at SIBF 2020 will be made by renowned American poet and spoken word artist, Prince Ea; Robert Kiyosaki, American businessman and author; Lang Leav, best-selling author from New Zealand; Ian Rankin, bestselling writer from the UK; Lebanese-Canadian author Najwa Zebian; Neil Pasricha, Canadian author and television host; popular Italian children’s books author, Elisabetta Dami; Indian authors Ravinder Singh and Dr. Shashi Tharoor; and British writer Richard Ovenden, among others.

Arrangements are being made to host virtual meetings between students and their favourite authors and cultural figures.

Reading opens up new worlds; it changes his or her whole perspective of life. It allows the reader to dream and reinforces the confidence to be creatively persistent.

 

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