Sharjah welcomes1.69 million visitors from109 nationalities at SIBF21

40th Sharjah International Book Fair emerges as the world's largest book fair this year 

10:57 PM | 14 Nov, 2021
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 SHARJAH - After establishing itself as the world's largest book fair this year and receiving 1,692,463 visitors representing 109 nationalities, curtains fell on the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), which ran its course from November 3-13 under the theme 'There's always a right book'.

The cultural extravaganza brought together 1,632 publishers from 83 countries. This milestone edition, where Spain was Guest of Honour, surpassed every international book fair held this year to become the world’s largest by attracting the largest number of publishers and literary agents looking to network, matchmake and do business with each other. 

Females account for 51.9 percent of SIBF visitors

Statistics released by SBA reveals that Females account for 51.9 percent of SIBF visitors, and males accounted for 48.1 percent of SIBF visitors. As for age groups, 1.3 percent of visitors at SIBF 2021 were under 15 years; 52.2 percent between 16 and 30, those between 31-45 accounted for 35.5 percent, while 11.1 percent were 46 years and older. 90.2 percent of visitors registered on-ground to attend the fair, while 9.8 percent registered via SBA’s digital platforms.

 Multiple visits to SIBF 2021 by 20,000 visitors 

An interesting finding made by the book fair this year was that around 20,000 amongst the 1.6 million visitors to SIBF 2021 walked into the 11-day fair more than once; and thousands have visited the fair 3 to 7 times. Some even made multiple visits in one day – a clear sign that SIBF is a major cultural attraction. The fair received visitors from 109 nationalities with the UAE securing the top spot, followed by India, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, Iraq, Philippines, Morocco, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Algeria, Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Austria, America, Canada, and other countries.

 More than 1000 activities during the cultural fest

The vibrant and diverse programming agenda of SIBF 2021 included more than 1,000 activities, including 440 cultural sessions, 355 shows, performances, seminars and workshops for children, and more than 80 awe-inspiring theatrical and dance performances from Europe, Asia, and Africa. For the first time in the history of SIBF, aspiring illustrators, designers and art directors had an opportunity to benefit from a series of free workshops and panel sessions as part of a dedicated Illustration Survival Corner, organised in collaboration with Bologna Children's Book Fair.

 SIBF 2021 brought together 85 writers from 22 countries

SIBF 2021 hosted 85 authors and intellectuals from 22 countries who led the fair's events and activities. Taleb Al Refai was Cultural Personality of the Year at this edition of the book fair, which also hosted distinguished guests, including Tanzanian novelist and the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2021, Abdulrazak Gurnah; South African comedian and celebrity TV host Trevor Noah; Chris Gardner; writer Yasmina Khadra; Amitav Ghosh; Chetan Bhagat; and the young inventor Gitanjali Rao from America.

 Notable names from the UAE and the Arab region include novelists Maysoon Saqr Al Qasimi, Sultan Al Amimi, Asma Al Zarooni, the novelist Reem Al Kamali, and Shaikha Al Mutairi, in addition to poet Khalid Abdulrahman, author Ahlam Mosteghanemi, poet Hisham Algakh, actor Muhammad Subhi, poet Faisal Al Adwani, Egyptian jewellery designer Azza Fahmy, Egyptian author Dr Midhat Al Adl, historian Ali Al Namlah, Jordanian Jalal Barjas, and many others.

 Ahmed Al Ameri: The strong foundations of learning laid by books will stand firm in the face of any adversities 

 HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: "We congratulate His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, for the exceptional success of the 40th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF). His Highness’s visionary leadership has yielded great cultural achievements for the UAE and the Arab world, and proved that we are a nation that reads, creates, innovates and publishes. On these strengths, SIBF has emerged as the world's largest book fair this year. This record achievement would not have been possible without the unwavering support of His Highness over the past four decades.” 

 "The conclusion of the book fair marks not the end but the beginning of a new journey of cultural excellence for the UAE and the Arab region – one in which the distinct voices of writers and intellectuals are heard and begin to resonate with the whole world. We look forward to seeing more and more creative minds contributing to humanity by achieve shared developmental goals through cultural appreciation and exchange," Al Ameri added. 

 The SBA Chairman also stated that the strong participation by publishing professionals as well as the visitor turnout were both an affirmation of the willingness of both current and future generations to embrace books and knowledge. It also demonstrates Sharjah’s regional and global appeal as a platform where the best in literature, creativity, arts and culture intersect. 

 “The strong foundations of learning laid down by books will stand firm in the face of any adversities; and enlightened minds can build on it to drive prosperity for all,” Al Ameri concluded. 

 Khoula Al Mujaini: SIBF committed to achieving greater success

Khoula Al Mujaini, Director of Fair and Festivals, SBA, said that SIBF 2021 has achieved the distinguished honour of becoming the largest international book fair in the world. She stated that each year, the event provides new opportunities for publishers across the world to grow and prosper.

 She added: "The incredible success of SIBF 2021 reflects the love and commitment of our visitors, guest publishers and participants to continue celebrating and upholding the written word. As the book fair concludes, we reaffirm our commitment to build on Sharjah’s vision of bringing a bigger cultural feat for the world next year.”

 Inaugural edition of the National Libraries Summit 

A new addition to the SIBF 2021 agenda was a two-day National Libraries Summit, organised at the SBA headquarters in Sharjah from November 8–9, under the theme ‘Visibility, Engagement, Impact, and Collaboration’. The summit attracted more than 50 participants and 20 national libraries from across 20 countries and served as a platform to engage in several discussions and four networking meetings. The summit was held in collaboration with the American Library Association. 

 35 speakers, 546 publishers and literary agents participate

546 professionals and stakeholders across the publishing community including agents, authors, and 35 speakers, participated in the 11th SIBF Publishers Conference, organised in collaboration with the International Publishers Association.

 The 8th edition of the Sharjah International Library Conference (SILC), held in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA) on November 10-11, convened 500 librarians and sector professionals from across the globe, and focused on technologies and trends shaping the sector's future and facilitated collaborations and networking between guests to elevate the services delivered to their respective communities.

 The sponsors and partners of SIBF included Etisalat (official sponsor) Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (official media partner); Abu Dhabi Media (media partner); Expo Center Sharjah (strategic partner); Dar Al Khaleej (press partner); and Al Arabiya TV (media sponsor).