SHARJAH: Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi signed the first copy of his latest book, Hasad Al Sineen (The Harvest of Years) as he inaugurated the 30th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair at Expo Centre, Sharjah on Wednesday.
The landmark edition of the fair has also become the biggest-ever as it has drawn about 900 publishers from more than 40 countries who have brought over 300,000 titles to showcase at the event, which will run till Nov.26.
The total number of activities lined up for the festival has also gone up to 435, from 235 activities a year ago. The fair serves as an interactive platform for exchange of knowledge in the fields of book publishing, distribution and translation.
Recognised as one of the most significant book fairs in the Middle East and the Arab world, the festival of written words has also brought a number of authors and thinkers.
Earlier, Sheikh Sultan honoured Mohammed Bin Issa with the Cultural Personality of the Year award.
He also honoured a number of authors and publishers for bringing out outstanding books. The Universal Publishers and Distributors (Abu Dhabi) was honoured with the Best Local Publishers, while Al Saqi Publishers of Lebanon won the Award for Best Arab Publishers. Jashanmal Publishers and Distributors received the award for Best Foreign Publishers.
The Award for Best Emirati Book by an Emirati author was presented jointly to Khaled Mohammed Maskari and Abdullateef Abdo Azazy. Maskari won the award for his book,A Practical Guide to Business Writing, while Azazy won the award for his book Basmat Al Ahdath Wa Thakerat Al Jasad.
The Award for Best Emirati Book (Studies) was presented to Reem Issawi, a Tunisian writer and critic. The Award for Best Emirati Book (About the UAE) was given to Najla Al Rostamani and Francis Matthew for The Rise of A Nation.Why the West Rules - For Now by Ian Morris bagged the Award for the Best Foreign Book (Best Seller). The Award for Best Foreign Book (Economy and Business) was presented to the University of Chicago Press for the book Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N McCloskey. The Goodbye Cancer Garden by Janna Matties was awarded as the Best Foreign Book (Children Stories).
In celebration of the 30th anniversary, the professional programme at the fair has been expanded to include a translation programme, including the launch of a $300,000 fund to provide translation grants, networking and educational programmes.
This edition of the fair has also seen a big participation from India, which is the Focus Country in the international section. The Indian pavilion has been showcasing more than 35 top Indian publishers.
The exhibition is accompanied by a number of cultural, intellectual and creative activities. The fair has attracted the elite of the Arab world, whose participation ensured cultural interaction between the UAE and the world.
The highlight of the Indian participation will be the presence of ten popular authors including Dr Shashi Tharoor, Shobha De, Chetan Bhagat, Ruskin Bond, MT Vasudevan Nair, M Mukundan and Jaishree Misra.
Among the major participants from India is the Islamic Publishing House (IPH), one of the biggest publishers of Islamic books in Malayalam.
Participating in the fair for the 13th consecutive year, IPH has been exhibiting more than 500 titles in Malayalam this year along with some books in English and Urdu. “The list includes some of the latest arrivals in the market and new computer version of Thafheemul Quran,” said a representative of the Islamic Cultural Centre, IPH’s co-ordinators in the UAE.
The Sharjah International Book Fair has grown tremendously since its inception 30 years ago and has become one of the biggest in the Arab world. The publishing houses participating in the exhibition focus more on publishing books for children because if the habit is initiated in childhood it will continue throughout the life.