Curtains down on Sharjah International Book Fair: Reading 
spirit prevails amid pandemic

Photo by M.Sajjad/Khaleej Times
Photo by M.Sajjad/Khaleej Times

Sharjah - Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), the event followed all precautionary measures amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Sat 14 Nov 2020, 8:46 PM

Last updated: Sat 14 Nov 2020, 8:49 PM

The buzz of visitors was mellow, but their fervour emphatic and overwhelming as the socially distanced 39th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) drew to a close on Saturday. Despite the Covid restrictions looming over the event, book-lovers didn’t let it dampen their spirit.

Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), the event followed all precautionary measures amid the Covid-19 pandemic. A total 0f 1,024 publishers from 73 countries participated in the event, which began on November 4. They put up more than 80,000 titles at the Sharjah Expo Centre across an area spanning over 10,000 square metres.

The hybrid event — which witnessed books being exhibited in-person and cultural events hosted virtually — ran under the theme ‘The world reads from Sharjah’.

Exciting bargains

Visitors at the fair — who walked in on the concluding day — said they wanted to make the most of the exciting bargains.

Majd Al Khatib, a Sharjah resident, pointed out: “The book pavilions are as impressive as ever and I want to avail the best deals as stall owners significantly relax rates on the last day. My passion for reading cannot be stopped by any circumstances or barriers. I am interested in picking up a few translated novels this year. I am also looking to buy children’s books both in Arabic and English as children’s books are otherwise quite expensive.”

Deepti Nandi, who has not missed a single edition of the fair in the past five years, said: “I visit the fair quite a few times during the period it’s on. Of course, the fair was less vibrant this year as compared to other years as no activities or workshops were held and fewer kids around. However, when it comes to buying books that are priced reasonably, there is really no place quite like SIBF.”

Safety first

Natalie Habib, a Lebanese expat who is a regular visitor at the SIBF, said she took all safety precautions. “I noticed that a group of volunteers and security personnel were continuously supervising the exhibition grounds to monitor visitors’ compliance with the stipulated precautionary procedures.”

She said the fair is a once-in-a-year opportunity for bagging some deals. “It’s much cheaper than what you would get at the bookstores. The last days of the fair are exciting when it comes to making purchases, as stall owners visibly lower their prices and offer exciting deals.”

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