Books books books. (Tom and Kwikki / Shutterstock)
Leading international celebrities and authors including Pakistani cricket icon Waseem Akram and legendary Indian poet and filmmaker Gulzar will attend the 36th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) that will be held from November 1 to 11 this year.
World Cup winning cricketer Akram is expected to launch a book, while Academy Award-winning lyricist, filmmaker and Urdu poet Gulzar will address his fans during the 11-day event.
Themed ‘A World inside My Book,’ the world’s third largest book fair and the region’s biggest will also feature 393 celebrities and dignitaries including 200 leading authors and poets speaking and interacting with the visitors at the Expo Centre Sharjah.
In a celebration of literature, knowledge and culture, visitors will be enlightened by a host of celebrities like Syrian actor Gassan Masood, British historian Peter Frankopan, Booker Prize-winning writer-activist Arundhati Roy, Indian actor R. Madhavan, journalist and author Rajdeep Sardesai, activist and writer Burhan Sonmez, novelist Ali Ghadeer, veteran Indian actress Hema Malini and many more.
Details of SIBF 2017 were revealed during a press conference held on Wednesday by Ahmad Al Ameri, chairman of Sharjah Book Authority.
“The SIBF has turned into an all-inclusive cultural project, with books and associated initiatives constituting its primary focus. The SIBF serves as a beacon of knowledge that brings together publishers, authors, bibliophiles and internationally-acclaimed guests in a shared passion for literature and culture,” said Al Ameri, as he gave a detailed presentation of the upcoming event.
Bigger and better than ever, the 36th SIBF will be spread over an area of 14,625 square metres, 4,000 square metres bigger than its previous edition, covering a host of new programmes.
With more than 1.5 million titles, SIBF 2017 will host 1,800 publishers from 60 countries, including more than a dozen new countries such as Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore participating this year.
The annual fair will host 2,600 activities with dedicated sections for cultural, children’s, social media and cookery programmes.
The cultural programme will encompass 300 events and feature 158 guests from 39 countries, while the Cultural Café will include 33 activities involving 60 guests from 11 countries.
This year’s calendar of events will also have an Intellectual Programme, which will host 98 guests from 28 countries covering 267 events.
The most extensive of the events on offer this year is the Kids’ Programme, which will see 1,632 activities presented by 44 guests from 20 countries, including the UK, Kuwait, Poland, Jordan, Australia, Moldova, Russia, India, Bahrain, Iceland, Mongolia, Syria, Italy and Ukraine.
The dedicated Cookery Corner will see celebrity chefs presenting 72 events representing cuisines from India, the UK, Morocco, Sweden and Thailand.
A popular part of the book fair that particularly resonates with the youth, the Social Media Station will have 33 activities and workshops involving a galaxy of social media influencers who will be addressing topical, cultural, media and social issues.
In a first for the book fair, a special pavilion titled ‘The Future Zone’ will bring together 10 leading companies specialised in digital books to showcase their experiences and latest publications.
Guest of honour
In another first for the popular festival that saw over two million visitors last year, the book fair will have the United Kingdom as a guest of honour, ensuring a major participation from British publishers, authors and literary institutions.
“This partnership is very significant for us because it is for the first time the SIBF is having a country as its guest of honour. We are absolutely delighted the UK has been selected as the inaugural country of honour, especially in this year of UK/UAE 2017 Year of Cultural collaboration,” said Hannah Henderson, head of UK/UAE 2017 Year of Culture.
She added that the partnership brings a multi-dimensional programme to the fair, led by the London Book Fair, which will have a pavilion at SIBF 2017.
Among the highlights of this tie-up will be the exhibition of a seventh century manuscript of the Quran, believed to be among the oldest surviving copies of the Islamic holy book.
The SIBF will also host a professional publisher’s training programme ahead of the fair, while an international library conference will be held alongside the fair.
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