Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sharjah Intenational Book Fair Shines Brightly

I am wrapping my last day at the Sharjah International Book Fair in what has been an incredibly quick 5 days.  It is hard not to inject some personal positive bias for the job Ahmed Al-Almiri has done in elevating the stature and importance of SIBF as THE major book fair in the Middle East and indeed a player among all the global book fairs.  My bias is from the partnership and friendship of working with Mr. Al-Amiri to introduce SIBF to US publishing industry people from  sales to agents to editors that could benefit by doing business in the region.  The primary function of BEA is to deliver value to our participants, whether they are an attendee or exhibitor and that is not limited to what happens at BEA. By leveraging the relationships we build through BEA, we were able to connect and extend the opportunity that Sharjah offers in bringing more and the latest English language titles to the Arab market.  For the publishers that has meant selling more English language books into the market and for agents, it is creating opportunities that they did not have before.

I have been coming to Sharjah since 2006 and barely recognize it from the first few times I attended.  The simplest and most powerful testimony is to share a few of the facts: 

  • More than 400 industry professionals from around the globe, participating in a 2 day professional program
  • There was curated matching making with more than 200 publishers - setting meetings between Arabic region publishers with publishers, agents and editors from all over - Canada, France, Poland, Switzerland, anchored by UK and US publishers like Wiley and Macmillan.   More than 50 countries were represented
  • John Ingram has been very visible at events and giving the day 2 keynote, being interviewed by Simon Littlewood, formerly of Random House UK
  • Over 100 applications are under review for what will be $350,000.00 in grants issued for translating books to and from Arabic as well as translating from any origin language to any other language
  • Next week 500 librarians from the UAE, including many from all parts of Africa and the US will participate in an ALA run Professional Development program
  • Dan Brown has been one of the featured guests, participating in panels, autographing books and touring the region discovering the local history
It is truly a special fair that is nurtured and supported Sheik Sultan Al Qasimi's passion for books, literature and understanding through culture that is equally shared by his daughter Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi and is easy to see by the 20,000 school kids that came through this morning buying books. 

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