Sharjah International Book Fair bids farewell with 2.23 million visitors

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Staff Report

The 37th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2018) closed its doors on Saturday night after welcoming 2.23 million visitors including 230,000 school students, who came in looking for books and entertainment at the region’s biggest literary and cultural extravaganza.

The fair’s activities also managed to generate unrivalled global interaction on social media, and received a whopping 2.7 billion impressions on its social platforms (Instagram: 219,231,710, Twitter: 1,513,215,412, Facebook: 1,013,000,112). SIBF’s hashtag #SIBF18 reached 300 million users, and the official social media accounts generated this activity through 70,000 social media posts.

The 37th edition of SIBF was home to 1,874 publishers from 77 countries offering 20 million books reflecting 1.6 million individual titles, of which 80,000 were seen at the fair for the first time. It also entertained people with a line-up of 1,800 events featuring 472 presenters and guests who flew in from around the world.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, the 11-day book fair ran from October 31 – November 10 at the Sharjah Expo Centre and witnessed participation of government officials, authors, intellectuals and publishers from the UAE and the world.

Japan was hosted as the Guest of Honour with a rich programme of events, and Azzeldine Mihoubi, Algeria’s Minister of Culture, was named this edition’s Cultural Personality of the Year.

During the book fair’s final weekend, organisers extended the working hours until midnight to accommodate the large numbers that were visiting to meet their favourite authors, buy their favourite books, and have them signed by a few authors in attendance. SIBF 2018 hosted 200 book signing ceremonies.

This year, the fair saw the fifth edition of the annual SIBF/ALA Library Conference organised in partnership between the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and the American Library Association (ALA). The conference was attended by over 400 librarians and academics from the region and the world, who partook in over 25 panel discussions and networking events, to discuss the changing role of libraries in the era of digitisation.

The three-day SIBF Publishers Conference, which is held as a precursor to the 11-day event, engaged 486 publishers, who held 3,000 “Matchmaking Meetings”. These meetings resulted in the signing of 2,884 translation rights agreements. Submission deadline for SIBF Translation Grant to be in the running until February 26, 2019.

The 11-day event was visited by a host of distinguished personalities and government officials like Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, the UAE Minister for Cabinet Affairs and the Future; and Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education.

Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: “With each successive edition of the fair, we see a substantial increase in volume and quality of titles. This speaks volumes about the success of Sharjah’s cultural movement, led by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.”

“Books will always be the best tool for cross-cultural exchange. Books focus on our relationship with others and help us look into the variety of values, beliefs ambitions and dreams that people can possibly hold. In view of the rapid penetration of technology and communications tools, we need to preserve and promote the values of tolerance, love and humanity, which books and cultural exchange can do beautifully,” he added.

Al Ameri applauded the efforts of all those who contributed to the success of SIBF 2018, including the sponsors, partners, volunteers, cultural entities from across the UAE. He extended special thanks to the SBA team for their extraordinary efforts in preparing for the event and coordinating with international publishers, authors and guests. He also commended the array of events organised by Japan, Guest of Honour at SIBF 2018. -abdulbasit@theuaenews.com