Sharjah International Book Fair is Now the World’s Largest as it Registers 1.7 Million Visitors
The world’s largest book fair closed on Saturday after registering around 1.7 million visitors during its 11-day run. The Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) welcomed visitors representing 109 nationalities. The cultural extravaganza brought together 1,632 publishers from 83 countries. The 40th edition of the fair, where Spain was Guest of Honour, surpassed every international book fair held this year to become the world’s largest.
According to statistics released by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), females accounted for 51.9 percent of SIBF visitors. As for age groups, 52.2 percent were aged between 16 and 30; 35.5 percent, between 31 and 45; 11.1 percent, 46 years and older; and 1.3 percent were under 15. Around 20,000 visitors walked into the 11-day fair more than once; while thousands visited the fair three to seven times. Some even made multiple visits in one day.
The fair received visitors from 109 nationalities, with the UAE securing the top spot, followed by India, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, Iraq, Philippines, Morocco, Tunisia, Morocco, and Sudan. The programming agenda of SIBF 2021 included more than 1,000 activities: 440 cultural sessions; 355 shows, performances, seminars, and workshops for children; and more than 80 theatrical and dance performances from Europe, Asia, and Africa.
For the first time, aspiring illustrators, designers, and art directors had an opportunity to benefit from a series of free workshops and panel sessions as part of a dedicated Illustration Survival Corner, organised in collaboration with Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The fair hosted 85 authors and intellectuals from 22 countries. Taleb Al Refai was Cultural Personality of the Year at this edition of the book fair.
Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the SBA, said, “The conclusion of the book fair marks not the end but the beginning of a new journey of cultural excellence for the UAE and the Arab region – one in which the distinct voices of writers and intellectuals are heard and begin to resonate with the whole world. We look forward to seeing more and more creative minds contributing to humanity by achieving shared developmental goals through cultural appreciation and exchange.”
The SBA chairman also stated that the strong participation by publishing professionals as well as the visitor turnout were both an “affirmation of the willingness of both current and future generations to embrace books and knowledge”.
“The strong foundations of learning laid down by books will stand firm in the face of any adversities, and enlightened minds can build on it to drive prosperity for all,” Al Ameri added.