SIBF closing day: Visitors, publishers, authors celebrate culture, literature without Covid restrictions

People from various emirates, countries, backgrounds and ages congregated at the event to celebrate the written word and everything associated with it without any restrictions

by

Afkar Ali Ahmed

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Sharjah International Book held at the Expo Centre under the slogan ‘Spread the Word'. Photos by M Sajjad
Sharjah International Book held at the Expo Centre under the slogan ‘Spread the Word'. Photos by M Sajjad

Published: Sun 13 Nov 2022, 10:42 PM

Visitors, publishers, guests and authors from various countries and nationalities celebrated culture, literature and arts at the 41st edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair, which concluded today (Nov 13), with the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions adding to the ease of all.

This year the turnout at the region's premier event was high compared to previous editions, and the receding of the pandemic coupled with the lifting of restrictions associated with it played a huge part in the event's popularity.


With restrictions such as wearing mask, maintaining distance and mandatory PCR test or vaccination certificates not applicable at the event, the crowds or booklovers were large from day-one. People from various emirates, countries, backgrounds and ages congregated at the event to celebrate the written word and everything associated with it.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, visitors and publishers said they were celebrating the love of culture without the restrictions that had forced many to refrain from attending during the previous years.


Nahla Magzoub
Nahla Magzoub

Sudanese journalist Nahla Magzoub was there at the invitation of the Sharjah Book Authority to be part of cultural celebrations.

"This year I enjoyed the freedom of walking around the fair halls and attending session, events and activities organised on the sidelines of the major cultural celebration without wearing masks and fearing crowds, and I could shake hands with friends I met at the event," she said

As the curtains came down on the event, more than 1,000 publishing houses had participated and over 150 personalities from the Arab world, Africa and the rest of the world, had graced the occasion. In addition, the participation of Italy as the guest of honour had brought the country's rich intellectual and creative cultural vibrancy to the event and a sense of 'dolce vita' to the Emirates.

Children, perhaps, had the largest presence at the event, coming in the weekday mornings on school trips with their teachers and on holidays with their families to spend a wonderful time with books, comics and various activities — from cooking and puppetry to meeting their favourite writer and engaging in skill development.

Visitors from various parts of the world also had a fruitful time at the SIBF. Yousif Mustaf from the Sharjah Culture Department said the SIBF's 41th edition more than lived up to the event's international reputation.

"It was a global forum in every sense of the word. It is a valuable opportunity for readers, authors, publishers and knowledge makers to celebrate the literary festival — and the lifting of the Covid restrictions was the icing on the cake," Mustaf said.

He added that the exhibition this year reached the peak of "its giving and its accumulation of knowledge, culture and literature".

"It has a distinguished position in the circles of Arab and international culture, as it constitutes an annual cultural event that emphasizes the deep interest in books. I’m was so happy to see the crowds walking around the halls with a feeling of safety and freedom."

Assif Khan, a visitor from Pakistan, said Sharjah's emergence as a knowledge industry hub was due to the efforts of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who has always supported knowledge and culture.

"The fact that Sharjah today is a capital of culture and books is nothing but the culmination of an era of continuous work to serve Arab culture, which is a worthy tribute to the emirate and its Ruler," Khan said.

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Rakesh Kumar, an Indian visitor, said the SIBF is a cultural and literary platform that promotes writers and intellectuals from all over, and is especially important after the pandemic period in light of the return to normal life and the resumption of work, cultural activities and events.

"It is an important initiative that highlights the importance of literature and culture.. and of new publications, after a period of interruption," Kumar explained, adding that publishing and celebrating Emirati achievements through events, seminars, cultural sessions and book launches were highlights at the event.

The number of Indian publishers increased this year, introducing the public to the various latest publications form the country in a way that met the aspirations and tastes of readers of different interests and age groups.

As the SIBF 2022 closed its doors, all visitors and everyone associated with it came away with a feeling of being enriched, true to the events slogan: "Spread the Word".


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