The 42nd annual edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) has crossed a historic milestone by attracting the highest number of participating countries since its inception in 1981. This edition will play host to 2,033 publishers and exhibitors from 108 nations from around the world. They will collectively present an impressive array of 1.5 million titles, all to be showcased in Expo Centre Sharjah from 1-12 November.
Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and carrying the theme We Speak Books, SIBF 2023 will bring together 600 authors from around the world to sign their new works. This is part of a comprehensive cultural, creative, and entertaining 12-day agenda that includes over 1,700 activities led by 215 guests from 69 countries targeting all age groups and diverse interests.
This year, SIBF celebrates South Korea as the Guest of Honour, showcasing the republic’s unique knowledge and cultural landscape covering literature, art, technology, and culture. The cultural extravaganza will also host an exhibition in collaboration with the Portuguese University of Coimbra featuring 60 historical artefacts. Furthermore, the book fair has dedicated 6 interactive spaces to upskill visitors and enrich their knowledge.
This announcement was made during a press conference held at the SBA headquarters where H.E. Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, CEO of SBA; H.E. Moon Byung-iun, Consul General of the Republic of Korea in Dubai; Salem Al Ghaithi, Director of the Sharjah Broadcasting Authority; Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SIBF; and Mansour AlHassani, Director of Publisher's Services at SBA, unveiled the agenda of the highly anticipated international event. The conference was also attended by Mohammed Al Amimi, Vice President Business Engagement & Customer Support, ‘Etisalat by e&’, as well as officials and media representatives.
Sharjah: The Silk Road for Publishers
During his keynote speech, H.E. Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, CEO of SBA, affirmed that Sharjah has become a hub connecting the East and West. This achievement is attributed to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who recognised the importance of knowledge and books in nation-building and the advancement of civilisations. Al Ameri pointed out that the emirate not only facilitates access to books for readers everywhere but also aspires to become the “Silk Road” for publishers worldwide. These achievements have been widely recognised and lauded globally.
Al Ameri said, “The emirate's relentless efforts have led to significant global milestones, guided by Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, who has spearheaded the advancement of the publishing industry in Sharjah, the UAE, and the world. She has laid solid foundations for the development of the country's publishing sector. Today, she continues this journey as the Chairperson of SBA.”
Al Ameri concluded by saying, “Today, we are not only here to announce the details of SIBF 2023 but also to take a new step in a cultural project that has been evolving for forty-two years. This project emphasises that books are the cornerstone of developmental plans for countries in the region and globally. That's why we have chosen the theme 'We Speak Books' for the 42nd edition.”
During his speech at the press conference H.E, Moon Byung-iun, Consul General of the Republic of Korea said, “Korea’s methods of modernising its culture while preserving its past roots aligns perfectly with Sharjah’s values of supporting cultural creativity while preserving its local heritage and history. I believe that the cultural exchange between Sharjah and South Korea will continue to deepen and therefore open new paths of exchange that were never explored before. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Sharjah Book Authority for their amazing efforts to bring more than 20 South Korean authors, novelists, poets, calligraphers to Sharjah to exhibit their work and share their knowledge through talks, workshops and many more cultural programs.”
‘We Speak Books’
Reflecting on the SIBF 2023 slogan, Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SIBF, said: “We Speak Books embodies SIBF’s comprehensive vision for the book and culture industry. It has evolved beyond an event for buying and selling books to become a global hub for exchanging expertise, ideas, and knowledge. It also serves as a platform for securing publishing and translation agreements and a forum for discussing literary, artistic, and intellectual issues, attracting a diverse audience from all segments of society, whether they are avid book readers or interested in creative industries related to books.”
1043 Arab publishers amd 900 international
This year, 1043 Arab and 990 international publishers will showcase over 1.5 million titles, including 800,000 in Arabic and 700,000 in other languages during SIBF 2023. The UAE, Egypt and Lebanon top the list of Arab publishers taking part in the 42nd edition and on the international front, publishers from India, the UK, and Turkey top the international list.
127 Guests to Spearhead 460 Cultural Activities
The 42nd edition will feature a constellation of esteemed writers, thinkers, intellectuals, and artists, including Nobel laureates and recipients of distinguished Arab and international accolades. The exhibition will congregate 127 Arab and international guests from 33 countries to steer 460 cultural endeavours, encompassing panel discussions, immersive workshops, and sessions spanning various artistic expressions and literary genres.
Emirati and Arab Guests
SIBF 2023 will welcome eminent Emirati writers and intellectuals, such as poet Khaled Al-Badou, Dr. Mashael Al Nabooda, Adel Khozam, Mohammed Al Jokar, Suad Al-Araimi, Fathia Al Nimr, Dr. Aisha Al-Ghais, and Saeed Al Badi.
From the Arab domain, SIBF will host Algerian novelist Ahlam Mosteghanemi; Egyptian writer and screenwriter Ahmed Mourad; Kuwaiti author Dr. Mohamed Al Ghandour; Kuwaiti novelist Bothayna Al Issa; Lebanese poet Talal Haidar; Egyptian poet Nour Abdel Meguid; Egyptian media figure Reham Ayad; Kuwaiti poet Sheryan AlDihanni; Egyptian novelist and journalist Tareq Imam; Saudi poet Fahad AlShahrani; published physiognomy and body language experts Sarah and Hajar Abdul Rahman; Qatari poet Nasser Alober; along with many others.
Prominent international figures gracing SIBF 2023 include English-born Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell; Indian actress Kareena Kapoor; Swedish behavioural expert and author Thomas Erikson; Nigerian playwright and novelist Wole Soyinka; British-Pakistani novelist and writer Mohsin Hamid; Czech-Canadian scientist Vaclav Smil; American astronaut Sunita Williams; Dutch author Swami Purnachaitanya; Indian writer Monika Halan; among others.
Exhibition featuring 60 historical artefacts
The 42nd edition will feature an exhibition in collaboration with the University of Coimbra. This exhibition delves into the Portuguese presence in the Gulf and the cultural relationships forged there during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It will display 60 historical artefacts, including manuscripts, rare books, maps, and maritime tools. This exhibition underscores the profound relationship between the University of Coimbra and Sharjah, further solidified by the conferment of an honorary degree to His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and the Ruler of Sharjah, in 2018. Concurrently, a series of sessions will be organised, featuring esteemed historians discussing various facets of Portuguese history in the region.
The eagerly awaited second edition of the Thriller Festival is slated from November 8-10, in partnership with Thriller Festival NY. This 3-day event will congregate acclaimed thriller and crime genre writers with their aficionados. This year, the festival will spotlight ten international authors, including bestsellers, to engage with mystery and suspense enthusiasts in the region. Featured authors comprise Felix Francis, Ivy Pochoda, Candice Fox, J.D. Barker, Danielle Trussoni, Alex Finlay, Max Seeck, Blake Crouch, C.J. Howe, and Kathleen Antrim.
Six interactive spaces
This year, SIBF 2023 features six interactive spaces targeting various demographics. They will be home to 900 workshops led by more than 31 guests from 12 countries, offering new and diverse activities. The workshops will cover self-reflection, emotional balance, and self-improvement, as well as comics, child literature, inventions and innovation workshops tailored for children and youth. For the older visitors, the 12-day book fair will organise workshops on animation, interpersonal skills, and handicrafts. In addition, the six interactive spaces offer motivational and collaborative workshops for both adults and children, including creative writing workshops and advanced topics such as sign language and supporting individuals with disabilities.
130 Shows Featuring Theatre, Dance Performances, and Musicals
A captivating lineup of 130 theatrical performances and musicals, directed by artists and performers from 14 countries, will be showcased during the 12-day event.
SIBF 2023 will also premiere the musical play “Barcode Prison,” the most significant Emirati theatrical production in 2023. The cast includes Emirati actors Marwan Abdullah, Ahmed Mal Allah, Musa Al Bukishi, Bader Hakmi, Haifa Al Ali, and Reem Al Faisal. Directed by Marwan Abdullah Saleh, the play humorously and musically addresses the issue of bullying.
The cultural extravaganza will also host a children’s musical by the ALJ Sisters Band, starring Aljoud Albaanon, Wadha Alayoub, and Aljourry Albaanon. The play is about three girls experiencing various situations that teach them valuable lessons and social values.
The Cookery Corner this year will welcome 12 international chefs, each showcasing their distinct culinary prowess and cultural nuances through 45 dynamic activities. Participating chefs include Kim Kyeongmin and Kim Joohyun from South Korea, Torie True from the UK, Yohanis Gebreyesus from Ethiopia, Barbara Massad from Lebanon, Suzanne Husseni from Canada, Sally Butcher from the UK, Irina George from Romania, Marianna Leivaditaki from Greece, Chef Suresh Pilla blending UK and Indian flavours, and Krish Ashok from India.
Social Media Station
Throughout the 12-day book fair, the Social Media Station will host workshops and specialised sessions covering a diverse range of topics, including enhancing partnerships and collaborations with social media influencers and trends, artificial intelligence, as well as the production of AI-enhanced content.
South Korea’s Guest of Honour Programme
In celebration of its status as SIBF 2023's Guest of Honour, South Korea will curate engaging activities under its cultural program titled ‘Imagination Without Borders.’ The vibrant agenda encompasses 15 cultural programs, 7 panel discussions, and 5 musical renditions by select South Korean artists. The honorary guest will also feature 3 distinguished chefs at the Cookery Corner, alongside children’s entertainment and activities. Notable participants from South Korea include artists Kyung Hyewon, Kim Sangkeun, and Park Hyunmin, accompanied by author Jeong Munee; Ahn Jina, Associate Professor at Okinawa International University; Kim Ho, HK Professor at Seoul National University Asia Center and Emeritus Professor Lee Hee at Hanyang University Soo.
More than 600 book signing sessions
This year, SIBF 2023 will host more than 300 authors from around the world who will autograph their new works, while the dedicated “Book Corner” will host over 300 authors from 12 countries who will launch their new titles during the book fair.
SIBF 2023, in collaboration with New York University, will orchestrate a training programme centred on international publishing standards and practices for 120 publishers. This encompasses 20 from the UAE, 50 Arab publishers, and 50 African publishers. This year's curriculum will explore the potency of podcasts and storytelling in augmenting profits in the publishing realm, as well as data strategies for publisher triumph.
13th Publishers Conference
The eagerly awaited Publishers Conference will span three days from 29-31 October. Over 42 speakers and experts will helm 4 keynote speeches and 31 roundtables on day one, addressing pivotal issues and challenges confronting the publishing sector. On day two and three, the conference will facilitate matchmaking sessions between publishers, to negotiate over topics such as the buying and selling of rights, and translation agreements. The event will also ultimately serve as a forum for discussing ways to bolster the sector, share expertise, and broker new deals.
The 13th edition will commence with the participation of high-level officials in the publishing sector, including Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Book Authority; Núria Cabutí Brull, CEO of Penguin Random House Grupo; and Ian Chapman, Chief Executive and Publisher, Simon & Schuster UK and International; and Cheolho Yoon, Chairman of the Korean Publishers Association, and head of the South Korean Guest of Honour Delegation.
The international conference brings together publishers, and literary agents from 105 countries, including 11 participating for the first time: Benin, Ivory Coast, the Czech Republic, Mauritius, Paraguay, Burkina Faso, Zaire, Malawi, Guinea, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
Sharjah Publisher Recognition Award and ABC Awards
During the Publishers Conference, winners of the Sharjah Publisher Recognition Award will be announced with 58 candidates including 42 literary agents, and 16 publishers from 58 countries who applied for the award.
Furthermore, the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) has chosen the Publishers Conference to announce the winners of the second edition of the ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing, which aims to honour publishers that produce books for the visually impaired.
Sharjah International Library Conference
The 10th iteration of the Sharjah International Library Conference (SILC), in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA), is scheduled from November 7th to 9th. It will assemble over 400 international librarians and specialists representing diverse libraries in the US and around 30 additional countries.
Salem Al Ghaithi, Director of the Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, stated, “Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) is a prestigious international event that attracts visitors from all over the world. We are proud to collaborate on the media coverage and broadcast of SIBF to convey its cultural richness to households in Sharjah and beyond. Our commitment to promoting culture in Emirati society is evident in our extensive and responsible coverage of SIBF. We run a dedicated satellite office from the fair’s grounds throughout the 12-day event, and a significant number of our team members are present to cover the activities on our various platforms and channels. We highlight the most prominent authors and publishers, provide an overview of the event's literary and cultural scene, and enable the audience to connect with these distinguished authors, making SIBF an unforgettable experience.”
SIBF 2023 is supported by a range of strategic sponsorships and partnerships, including Etisalat by e& as the official sponsor; the Sharjah Broadcasting Authority as the official media partner; and Expo Centre Sharjah the strategic partner of SIBF.