FRANKFURT – The 68th Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest trade fair for books, kicked off with an opening ceremony on Tuesday.

Thousands of publishing companies from all over the world have gathered at the annual cultural event for publishing rights negotiation and communication.

A new initiative called “Arts+” will become this year’s highlight. It will be a forum to exchange creative contents and act as a think tank for innovative business models in culture and creative industry, according to Juergen Boos, director of the book fair.

“As the biggest international trade fair for content, the Frankfurter Buchmesse is the place where the complexity of an increasingly networked world most clearly exhibits its fragmentary, but also highly diverse, nature,” said Juergen Boos today at the opening press conference for the Frankfurter Buchmesse.

“This curiosity, the ongoing search for a new perspective on things (the bigger picture) is personified in our special guest, the artist David Hockney.” On the Wednesday of the fair, Hockney will join in the opening of THE ARTS+, a new space at the Frankfurter Buchmesse dedicated to networking and trade in creative content.

Furthermore, this year’s Book Fair provides a platform for authors such as Timothy Garton Ash, Mathias Énard, Ian Kershaw, Herfried Münkler, Boualem Sansal and Elif Shafak, who are looking for answers to the urgent political and social questions of today.

Migration and integration as challenges facing Western Europe; the impact of European history on the present-day; the serious threats to freedoms of speech and opinion in many countries; the relationship between Europe and the predominantly Islamic regions: these are just some of the topics that will be addressed during the five days at the “Weltempfang”, the cultural-political stage of the Frankfurter Buchmesse.

“These authors spend years of their lives examining the phenomena of our age and explaining particular global events,” said Juergen Boos. “Their works help us to make sense of the contemporary world. The Frankfurter Buchmesse supports authors, publishers and journalists in their work by establishing structures and networks, and giving them a platform.”

This year’s guest of honor is the Netherlands and Belgium’s Flanders, and Dutch literature will be specifically introduced and promoted in the coming five days.

Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium. Members of the royal families from the Netherlands and Belgium attended Tuesday’s opening ceremony.

In total, more than 7,100 exhibitors from more than 100 countries are expected at the 68th Frankfurter Buchmesse, from 19 to 23 October 2016.

This year’s fair will last till October 23.