Sharjah International Book Fair 2021 to bring Nobel laureate, 'Money Heist' scriptwriters to UAE


Photos by Shihab/Khaleej Times
Photos by Shihab/Khaleej Times

Sharjah - Chetan Bhagat, Chris Gardner, among stellar lineup of international, Arab writers


Afkar Ali Ahmed

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Wed 13 Oct 2021, 5:48 PM

Last updated: Wed 13 Oct 2021, 6:09 PM

The 40th annual Sharjah International Book Fair will bring the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah, to the UAE, alongside screenwriters of the superhit Netflix series 'Money Heist'.

The announcement was made at a press conference in Sharjah on Wednesday.

1,566 publishers from 83 countries and millions of titles will be showcased under one roof from November 3-13 at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Inigo de Palacio, Spain's Ambassador to the UAE, said: "The Sharjah International Book Fair is the most relevant Book Fair in the Arab region. Spain is coming to SIBF 2021 as a guest of honour, which will see a visit by our Minister of Culture and Sports."

The ambassador said they will host musical concerts, including the 'La Caramba' and a panel discussion on scriptwriting by the screenwriters of the Netflix series 'Money Heist'.

Tanzanian novelist and the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2021 Abdulrazak Gurnah will be marking his first international participation after winning the prestigious award. Chris Gardner, Yasmina Khadra, Amitav Ghosh, Chetan Bhagat; and the young inventor Gitanjali Rao from the US are among the stellar lineup of international writers set to attend SIBF 2021.

Notable names from the Arab region include poet and artist Khalid Abdulrahman, author Ahlam Mosteghanemi, Dr Ahmed Emara, 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 Booker champion Jalal Barjas, poet Haidar Mahmoud, and artist Ahmad Al Jasmi.

Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), SIBF 2021 will be welcoming 85 writers and intellectuals who will lead the fair's 970 events and activities. These will include literary discussions, workshops, seminars, cultural shows, concerts, theatre, and more, under the theme 'There's always a right book', inspired by SBA's international campaign 'Into Books', which was globally unveiled in August.

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: "The 40th edition of SIBF will serve as a catalyst for new readers and a key player in transforming the industry to meet their needs. At the same time, the book fair will offer a platform for authors and researchers to broaden their areas of interest."

SIBF 2021 brings together 929 Arab and 637 international publishers, showcasing millions of titles across a 10,000sqm area.

India leads international participation with 87 publishers, while 48 come in from the US, 26 from Italy, 16 from Canada and Brazil, 14 from Spain, and 12 from Mexico and France. Nine countries will debut in SIBF, including Colombia, South Sudan, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

This year, Egypt is represented by 295 publishers, followed by 250 from the UAE, 138 from the UK, 112 from Lebanon, 93 from Syria and 76 from Jordan.

Kuwaiti journalist and writer Taleb al-Refai will be the cultural personality of the year

SIBF 2021 to host a stellar line up of authors and cultural personalities from around the world

Vibrant children's programme

SIBF 2021 is organising 355 activities, shows and workshops for children this year, which professionals and experts will lead from 9 countries. In addition, the 11-day fair will feature an outdoor exhibition from Canada titled 'A Nomadic Heart', which is dedicated to celebrating the literary experiences of the Haitian-Canadian novelist Dany Laferrière and includes seven interactive shows based three of his novels.

School visits

The book fair will be open once again for school and university visits throughout its 11-day duration. SIBF 2021 visitor capacity protocol is that the numbers will be capped at 80 per cent of the venue's full capacity. Schools that wish to schedule a visit need to pre-register at the following link:

Additionally, the SIBF will be organising author visits to select schools and universities across the UAE.

80 shows featuring theatre, dance performances and musicals

SIBF 2021 will stage 80 awe-inspiring theatrical and dance performances as well as musicals in which artists and performing groups from nine countries will participate. Key theatre shows include 'The Rabbits', featuring Bader Al Shuaibi, Faher Al Benai, Hanadi Al Kandari, Fahd Saleh, Ghrour Safr and Ahmed bin Hussein.

Social Media Station to host 11 specialised workshops

A total of 11 workshops at SIBFs popular Social Media Station will cover topics including social media trends, creative content and other issues during the book fair. Notable guests leading the activities include Amr Maskoun, Mohamed Tarek and Hadeel Marei.

10 chefs and experts to lead 35 activities at the SIBF Cookery Corner

Food lovers are in for a new culinary journey with 10 chefs and experts from 9 countries who will lead 35 activities throughout SIBF 2021. Notable participants include Korean-American chef Judy Joo, Malaysian chef Sherson Lian, Indian chef Kunal Kapur, and Lebanese Lina Saad.

The Illustrators Survival corner

The Illustrators Survival Corner, a project by Bologna Children's Book Fair curated by Mimaster Illustrazione, will hold three hands-on workshops and master classes for aspiring illustrators, designers and art directors who will be taught to use image design and creativity tools, learn international best practices and will benefit from professional portfolio reviews.

Sharjah International Library Conference

200 librarians and experts from 20 countries and 17 speakers from 10 countries will convene at the 8th edition of the Sharjah International Library Conference (SILC). Held in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA) from November 9-11, the conference will take place in a hybrid format. An international group of librarians and experts will lead the conference discussions, which will centre around new trends and technologies, establish collaborations and networks, enhance leadership skills, and develop and promote new services for their respective communities.

11th SIBF Publishers Conference

More than 520 publishing professionals, agents and authors, and 35 speakers will take part in the 11th SIBF Publishers Conference, taking place at Expo Centre Sharjah from October 31 - November 2. The three-day event will host eight panel discussions on the key issues and challenges facing the publishing sector in the region and around the world. Participating publishers will get the opportunity to apply for the US$300,000 SIBF Translation Grant. The hugely popular 'Matchmaking' sessions will be held on all three days of the conference for the convenience of publishers and industry professionals to discuss buying and selling of rights and strike new deals, especially in the Arab market.

New at SIBF: National Libraries Summit and Smart App

A brand-new feature of the SIBF programme, a two-day National Libraries Summit, will be organised at the SBA headquarters in Sharjah on November 8–9. The theme of the summit is 'Attend, Interact and Influence' and will be attended by 60 participants from 20 counties and 20 national libraries from around the world who will be engaging in several discussions and four networking meetings.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, SBA will launch Sharjah International Book Fair Smart App compatible with both Android and iOS devices. The app will allow users to view the entire activities roster, view participating publishers and titles available and plan journeys by setting personalised notifications for upcoming activities.

Brig. General Dr Ahmed Saeed Al Naour, Director-General of Central Operations, Sharjah Police, noted: "We are working committedly to translate the national security strategy of our wise leadership. His Highness, the Ruler of Sharjah, is keen on reinforcing the emirate's status as a hub for civilisational enlightenment by attracting the most brilliant intellectual minds here. As we recover from the global pandemic, Sharjah Police promises to protect and safeguard the book fair and its visitors from the beginning until the very end."

Mohammed Hassan Khalaf, Director General of Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, said: "The Sharjah Broadcasting Authority has a clear vision based on the directives of the Sharjah Ruler that media is a machinery for positive change. We work in partnership with entities like SBA to make the emirate's projects a success. Let's congratulate all Emiratis and readers worldwide on the occasion of the 40th edition of SIBF, which has transcended its role as a book fair to become a cultural representation of Sharjah and the UAE – a message from the UAE and the Arab nation, which believes in the intrinsic value of books in offering a foundation for advancement."

He added that three channels and studios of the SBA will dedicatedly broadcast the book fair's 11-day activities and events in a comprehensive manner via 14 programmes. Apart from this, there will be live coverage and reporting on SIBF 2021 by the authority daily in addition to author interviews, games, competitions, and more.

Abdul Aziz Hamad Taryam, CEO Adviser and General Manager, Northern Emirates, Etisalat, said: "With the 40th edition of SIBF, Sharjah renews its commitment to extend and strengthen bridges of communication with other cultures of the world. This edition coincides with the 50th anniversary of the UAE's formation and reinforces the nation's aspirations to provide an environment that promotes our culture as well as leading cultural innovation. At Etisalat, we are honoured to offer our patronage to the book fair once again. Our continued support to this key event reflects our commitment to promoting reading and holistic cultural development in the UAE society."

Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SIBF, said: "The thought behind selecting this edition's theme for SIBF 'There is always a right book', was that the messages we sent out to the world with our recent global campaign 'Into Books', will find its way to realisation as every SIBF 2021 visitor finds a book to fuel their interests and passions."

Strict health and safety protocols will be adhered to throughout the 11-day event.

More news from