x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Sharjah Book Fair draws reading fans from all over

The book fair will showcase 405,000 titles from 53 countries, including 23 Arab countries.

SHARJAH // One of the biggest and most important book fairs in the region has opened in the emirate.

This year’s Sharjah International Book Fair has more than 1,000 exhibitors and will showcase 405,000 titles from 53 countries, including 23 Arab countries.

There will also be books in more than 180 languages.

Students are the focus this year, and the event’s organisers hope it will encourage them to read more, said Ahmad bin Rakkad Al Ameri, the director of the fair.

“We have a lot of surprises for our audiences from across the world in terms of cultural, children’s and cooking activities,” he said.

Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, opened the fair on Wednesday and launched his personal website.

The ceremony started with the announcement of the fair’s “cultural personality of the year”.

This year it was Farouq Hosni, the Egyptian former minister of culture and an accomplished painter.

Guests at the launch included author Jeffrey Archer, a former British politician and one of the world’s best-selling authors with sales of about 300 million. He gave a talk about writing and his career.

Sathar Abdul, an exhibitor from Jashanmal Bookstores, said the publisher was expanding its stall this year and anticipated more success.

“We are showcasing more than a 1,000 titles this year – far bigger than the titles we have shown in previous years,” he said.

“We have always had good results from the Sharjah book fair, and this is what encourages us to keep on increasing our presence and stock.”

Kalimat, the Sharjah-based publishing house of Arabic children’s books, announced the release of 20 titles.

Visitors welcomed a 25 per cent discount from the usual prices at the fair.

“I am here to buy a few books to help improve my children’s reading,” said Omar Al Bayati.

“I am buying both English and Arabic books, as fluency in the two languages is essential for my children.”

Other notable guests attending the fair included A P J Abdul Kalam, the former Indian president; Lebanese poet Najwa Barakat, Egyptian novelist Yousuf Al Qaeed, and Algerian novelist Wasini Al Araj.

Lebanon is the fair’s guest of honour this year, while countries including Britain, Portugal, New Zealand and Hungary are taking part for the first time.

There will also be cultural, cookery and children’s programmes.

The fair runs at Sharjah Expo Centre until November 16 and is open daily from 10am to 10pm.

ykakande@thenational.ae