Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) concluded on a record-breaking note on Saturday, with the 35th edition of the world’s third largest book fair the most successful to date. Titled ‘Read More,’ SIBF 2016 hosted more than 2.31 million visitors over its 11 days, with the footfall figures breaking all previous records established since its first edition in 1982. The volume of book sales at the fair reached AED 176 million, the highest ever in its three-and-a-half decade history.
Hosting 1,681 publishing houses from 60 countries with approximately 1.5 million titles on display, SIBF 2016 ran from November 2-12 at Expo Centre Sharjah. Visitors enjoyed an array of sessions hosted by its Kids Activities programme, Cultural Activities programme, Cultural Café, Cookery Corner and Social Media Café.
More than 600 school visits were a feature of SIBF 2016, with the total attendance from all segments of the community helping to create a buzz around the fair that was evident through the prevalence of its hashtag ‘#SIBF2016,’ recorded more than one billion impressions in English and Arabic. The hashtag proved to be an extremely popular trend through social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), 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 Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has been the strongest supporter of the event having believed its potential from its very first edition three-and-a-half decades ago”.
The Chairman of SBA 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 AED 2 million Sharjah Translation Award for international translation and authorship award which will be run by SBA. Offering further support for SIBF, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi announced that he was making a personal donation of AED four million for Sharjah’s libraries to purchase books from participating publishers at the fair, thereby considerably enriching the emirate’s literary landscape.
An array 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. Mohammed Al Muqrin, Palestinian poet Ibrahim Nasrallah, Iraqi researcher and writer Rasheed Al Khyoun, International relations expert Dr. Parag Khanna, Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and Indian film actor and producer Mammootty. Famous authors taking part included Cassandra Clare, writer of The Mortal Instruments fantasy novels and Eric Van Lustbader, New York Times bestselling author who has penned 10 of The Bourne Series novels.
Guest of Honour at this year’s was the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (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 rich programme of activities at the fair as part of its strong relationship and shared interests with Sharjah, the Capital of Arab and Islamic Culture.
On the sidelines of the fair, the third edition of the joint conference between SIBF and the American Library Association (ALA), took place from November 8-10. The SIBF/ALA conference hosted an array of presentations and discussions that dealt with the pressing issues and most 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 to facilitate a capacity increase that will take it from the 25,000 metre floor space that it has occupied to one of 60,000 metres.