36th Sharjah’s International Book Fair Promises New World in Galaxy of Literature

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The Sharjah International Book Fair is a mix of global aspirations with local sensibilities. And yet, the goal – opening literature to the world – has remained the same. A World in My Book is the theme for the 36th book fair to be held from November1-11, 2017. 

Maryam Ismail | Caravan Daily

Excitement! That was the mood at the press conference for the 36th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair.

Speaking in Arabic, English, and Urdu, Sharjah Book Authority chairman, Ahmed Al Ameri’s message was loud and clear: Sharjah Book Fair is an event for all who live in UAE and beyond. With additional halls totalling 1800 square meters, 393 guest speakers, nearly a thousand activities and exhibitions, it will be an event not to be missed.  

Humble Beginnings

I remember my first trip to the 18th edition of the Sharjah Book Fair in 2000. It was held at the old Sharjah Expo grounds which looked like a long army barrack. It had a garden surrounding, a small mosque outside and a snack stand that was open even during the break from 1-4pm. Back then, the hot sellers were Islamic books, Pokémon cards, and Islamic trivia card sets. What a different world that was. Even then, it was still grander, as told by Mahmoud Khalaf of the Sharjah Book Authority during the press conference.

“We come from humble beginnings, when we started in 1982 with just six publishers” said Khalaf. “It is through the wisdom and knowledge of Shaikh Sultan Mohammad Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, he has helped in the transformation of UAE by his mission of making Sharjah the global book capital of the world,” continued Khalaf.

From Local to Global

The Sharjah International Book Fair is global now; a mix of global aspirations with local sensibilities. And yet, the goal – opening literature to the world – has remained the same. A World in My Book, is the theme for 2017.  This year will offer some a new venue and a few special treats. “One of these new venues is the additional seventh hall just finished last week,” said, Raeda Makhamreh, IT senior executive at the SBA. Another special feature is the People of Determination, (Sharjah’s ruler, has bestowed this title on Sharjah’s special needs community) pavilion at the book fair, for those with special needs. “This is in cooperation with Thiqa, the Sharjah Special Needs Rehabilitation Center, which has special facilities to ensure that they too, can participate and enjoy the book fair,” said Al Ameri.

Islamic Heritage

Another extra special feature is the exhibition of the Birmingham Quran manuscript, which has been carbon dated to have been written 568 and 645 AD, which dismisses the myth that Quran was written centuries after Prophet Mohammad died. The manuscript will be on display and will be available for all to see. This exhibition was made possible by the British Council and the London Book Fair, as part of the inaugural Country of Honor program with the United Kingdom being the 2017 country of Honor. This program is organized by the British Council’s Hannah Henderson as part of collaboration between the UAE and the UK. “This is a year-long program in which the UK will share its literary heritage from Enid Blyton to James Bond; sharing our innovations and leadership experience and skill with the publishing industry in UAE,” said the organizers.  

Star Writers and Intellectuals, and the World of Publishing

Have a favorite author? You might get your chance to meet them face to face. Sharjah’s favorite, Arundhati Roy, will also be at the book fair to talk about her new book, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. If you are curious about behind-the-scenes action of the 2011 Revolution in Egypt, here is a tip: Save your questions for screenwriter and author of the thrilling mystery, Vertigo, Ahmed Murad. Also, activist and writer, Burhan Sonmez, who writes about the political conflict of Turkey in his latest book, Istanbul, Istanbul will be there. These are just a few, not including Arabic writers from around the region: Ibrahim Nasrullah, Suood Sanusi, Leena Khouri, and Dr. Ayman Fuwad Al Sayyed. In addition to Roy, there will be a number of other South Asian writers and intellectuals such as Sangeetha Sreenivasan – a journalist and novelist whose book Acid, won the Thopil Ravi award.

For those who are wondering where the English language writers are, don’t worry, the SIBF has you covered. Lifestyle guru Jasmin Brett Stringer will be on hand to discuss how to improve your life and seize the day, not to mention, her bestseller: How to Seize York Life and Young Adult Lit novelist, Morgan Matson as well as others who fans and book lovers will have a chance to meet, greet, and learn more about at the SIBF.

“As Sharjah is famous for its training session, this year will have sessions for publishers on October 29 given by New York University of Abu Dhabi’s School of Professional Studies and another held by the American Library Association, to share knowledge and “Getting more people to come to the library,” said Al Ameri.

So brace and get prepared to have your best time at the book fair this year!

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