“ In the love of the written word “
Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) is one of the largest book fairs in the world, the most prestigious in the Arab world and home to the most exciting literary event in the region.
It was established in 1982, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah in order to promote reading as a habit among the younger generation while instilling the love of literature among the people of the region.
Inspired by love of the written word, the SIBF seeks to spread the joy of reading, promote cross cultural understanding and bring the finest talent in publishing to the Middle East from all over the world. It is here that the finest books are showcased at affordable prices.
The fair provides an opportunity for book lovers to acquire literature at great prices and is also a platform for authors and publishers to meet and discuss current trends and potential opportunities to work together.
Over the years, the 11-day event has evolved into a literary carnival with the 2015 edition seeing participation from 1547 publishing houses that came from 64 countries. The number of titles on display were 1.5 million, making it the largest number of book titles to be showcased in the fair since its establishment. This included 890 from the Arab world and 433 other countries with books on display in 210 languages.
The 35th edition of SIBF received 2.3 million visitors firmly placing the emirate on the map as a cultural focal point. The SIBF is considered to be one of the pillars that elevated the city to be the cultural capital of the region 2014.
In December 2014, the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) became the official organisation responsible for overseeing and managing the SIBF, a move that contributes greatly to maintaining SIBF's internationally acclaimed status.
SIBF serves as the beating heart of SBA, the newly established government body that has a remit to encourage investment in creative industries and offer a platform for the exchange of knowledge and culture between people from different countries and cultures.
SBA is also entrusted with emphasizing the significant role of writers and their influence in spreading awareness in society about technological advancement and the availability of various sources of knowledge. SBA also aims to strengthen the emirate's stature locally, regionally and internationally, and attract relevant bodies and figures involved in the cultural sector in general, and the publishing, printing, translation, documentation and children's books sector in particular.
A Festival of Opportunities
The fair provides unparalleled opportunities for book lovers to acquire great books at affordable prices and also offers an ideal platform for authors and publishers to meet and discuss the latest trends and developments in the industry, and explore the potential avenues for mutual cooperation.
During SIBF 2015 the Sharjah Book Authority and the Emirates Writers Union signed an agreement aimed at promoting Emirati writers globally and spreading Emirati culture around the world. The authority will invite Emirati writers to join them at international book fairs and conferences in order to raise their profiles. They will also produce and distribute a booklet about the Emirati Writers Union to spread awareness and increase their popularity.
A matchmaking session is also held during the SIBF to bring together publishers and those seeking translations grants. The Sharjah Government-supported Translation Grant Fund was launched to promote the translation movement through cash grants awarded to publishers to help them translate their publications into other languages. The grant is valued at $1,500 for children’s books and up to $4,000 for all other titles.
The Translation Grant Fund has seen an impressive development in the quality of publications and books nominated to be awarded the grant, which shows that publishers from around the world wish to benefit from the grant and provide readers with more opportunity to enrich their reading through diverse cultural texts.
Over the years the SIBF hosted some of the biggest names in publishing such as international bestselling author, Dan Brown while the 34th edition hosted Egyptian actor Mohammed Sobhy, Irish writer Darren Shan, BBC and Sky TV presenter and writer John McCarthy, Nigerian Booker Prize winning writer and poet Ben Okri and Indian actor Mohanlal, among many others.
More than 1000 events took place during SIBF, of which 33 were in the Cultural Café. The cultural program of the Sharjah International Book Fair was packed with seminars, panel discussions and cultural evenings with the participation of writers and intellectuals from all around the world. The fair witnessed the participation of nearly 50 speakers from the UAE.
During the opening ceremony, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi honored winners of the Sharjah International Book Fair 2015 awards. This included the “Cultural Personality of the Year”, which was awarded to Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Adviser to Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and Governor of Makkah Province, as well as the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature.
Also, in recognition of its high quality of content and organisation, the Sharjah International Book Fair has been awarded membership to various international organisations such as the Afro-Asian Book Council, Arab Publishers’ Association, and GCC Book Committee and has also been recognised by the International Publishers Association.
The Sharjah International Book Fair has been named among the world’s top four book exhibitions for 2013. The industry specific, UK-based magazine “The Bookseller” placed SIBF in the top slot of the most coveted and authentic international book exhibitions’ rating.
In April 2015, the Sharjah International Book Fair won the Market Focus Achievement Award as part of the 2015 International Excellence Awards at the London Book Fair, in recognition of the role the fair and the emirate of Sharjah played in promoting culture and publishing and international market focus, as well as in cementing cooperation in the areas of culture between the Arab region and various countries in the world.
The Fair in numbers:
Number of visitors in 2016: 2.3 million visitors from the UAE and abroad
Number of publishers in 2016: 1420 publishing house who came from 64 countries
Number of events in 2016: Over 1417
SIBF - Sections:
The Sharjah International Book Fair comprises four main sections:
The Sharjah International Book Fair is a meeting place for some of the world’s most celebrated authors. The number of authors who participate in this major event is on the increase year after year, signifying the resounding success and widespread popularity SIBF enjoys among intellectuals and readers.
Books are the cornerstone of the Sharjah International Book Fair's vision, and this is why the number of books increases year after year, in compliance with the highest standards set by the fair's organisers.
More than 1420 exhibitors took part in the 35th Sharjah International Book Fair, highlighting the value and prestige enjoyed by the fair as one of the most important and popular book fairs in the world.