Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 10, 2020

Monday, August 10 Dedicated Issue: Sharjah Book Authority

Sharjah Book Authority: Sharjah Publishing City

Editors' Note

Sharjah's Deep Commitment to Books and Reading

With support from the Sharjah Book Authority, Shelf Awareness offers an overview of the many and striking book-related activities and institutions of the Book Authority, including the Sharjah International Book Fair, the Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone and the Sharjah Public Library.

Sharjah Book Authority: Sharjah Publishing City

Bookselling News

The Sharjah Book Authority

The role of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) in boosting the power of the written word was no less exemplary as it drew upon the UAE's and Sharjah's collective passion to build a knowledge-based society and economy by highlighting the importance of books and reading, and making these accessible to all. Through a series of timely, dedicated activities, SBA has been directing efforts towards creating a culture of a lifelong love of learning amongst the people of the UAE and beyond.

SBA also took the lead in presenting Sharjah's efforts at international book fairs and trade shows highlighting its impact on literary and publishing development in the wider Arab world. By showcasing Sharjah’s unique cultural and artistic journey status and its status as the cultural hub of the Arab world, SBA also reinforced the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to use literature as a tool to strengthen bridges of cultural communication around the world.

His Excellency Ahmed Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority

About SBA
An Emiri decree by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, led to the establishment of the Sharjah Book Authority in 2014. The organisation aims to enhance investment in creative industries and provide a platform for knowledge and intellectual exchange between different nations and cultures. It also highlights the importance of books not just for their academic value, but for the impact they have in raising community awareness in view of rapid technological advancements and diverse sources of knowledge.

SBA is a key cultural entity responsible for conceptualising and curating a majority share of the emirate’s literary, academic and cultural events, for instance, the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), the Sharjah Children's Reading Festival (SCRF), and the Publishers Conference, in addition to many initiatives and events.


  • To play a leading role in expanding Sharjah's position as a global cultural centre for the production, dissemination and exchange of knowledge, and to professionally engage as an incubator for the Arab cultural project.


  • Facilitate the exchange of knowledge and culture through the medium of the written word.
  • Organise and participate in book fairs, literary and cultural events; and spearhead campaigns and initiatives to promote a culture of reading.
  • Support aspirations of writers and provide quality content to readers.
  • Further the local and regional publishing industry and promote its access to global book markets.
  • Transform its state-of-the-art libraries into knowledge repositories.
  • Preserve Emirati and Arab culture, and showcase it to the world.

Sharjah Book Authority: Sharjah Libraries

Sharjah International Book Fair

Following the vision and directions of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah to turn the emirate into a hub of literature and creativity, the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) debuted in 1982 with the participation of 16 publishers. Today, SIBF has grown to become a key event on the global cultural calendar. The much-anticipated annual fair, to be held this year November 4-14, is one of the top three largest book fairs in the world and attracts award-winning local, regional and foreign authors, celebrated intellectuals and artists, media figures, filmmakers and influencers who lead the book fair's diverse 11-day cultural programme.

38th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2019)
Nobel laureates, Booker Prize and Oscar winners, along with 2,000 publishers from 81 countries, graced the 38th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) from October 30 to November 9, which witnessed a record turnout of 2.52 million visitors during the 11-day event.

SIBF 2019 celebrated the Republic of Mexico as Guest of Honour. Lebanese author and critic Dr. Yumna Al Eid was named the Cultural Personality of the Year. The fair hosted a stellar line-up of notable Arab and international guests. Among them were American entertainer and TV host Steve Harvey, the Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, poet and filmmaker Gulzar who has won an Academy Award, Omani author Jokha Alharthi--the first Arabic-language writer to win the prestigious Man Booker International Prize--leadership guru Robin Sharma and Indian author and poet Vikram Seth.

His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah allocated AED 4.5 million (about $1.23 million) for the acquisition of a selection of titles, brought in by publishers participating SIBF 2019, to continuously update the emirate's libraries with valuable reading materials and resources in history, literature, politics, arts, science, technology in Arabic and international languages.

SIBF 2019 activities saw the participation of 173 leading authors from 68 countries, taking part in 987 events ranging from book discussions and signings, theatre, social media events, kids and cookery activities, and more, in addition to plays, magic shows and comics-based activities.

To further expand the reach of books in the Middle East and African continents, SBA partnered with Big Bad Wolf Ventures Sdn. Bhd. (BBW), popularly known as the organiser of the World's Biggest Book Sale, to setup a regional branch at Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone. Under this new agreement, 1 billion books will be circulated across MEA countries over the next five years in a bid to promote regional publishers and increase people's access to affordable books.

Finally, SIBF 2019 also made history by entering the Guinness Book of World Records by hosting the world's largest simultaneous book signing ceremony in one location with 1,502 authors from the UAE and beyond who signed their books.

Sharjah Book Authority: Sharjah Libraries

Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone

Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ) was established to strengthen Sharjah's role in growing and developing the book industry and allied businesses internationally. The free zone enjoys Sharjah's strategic location, and has succeeded in attracting publishers from both the east and west who wish to expand into the Gulf, Middle East and North Africa regions.  

SPCFZ spans 40,000 square metres (about 430,500 square feet) and offers a world-class, investor-friendly environment with numerous benefits including 100% foreign ownership, best-in-class infrastructure replete with 600 fully equipped office spaces, and comprehensive allied services like printing, licensing and distribution. An area of 6,000 square metres (about 64,580 square feet) is earmarked for investors who want to build their own offices.

The plethora of services it delivers, such as ISBN, translation, copyrights and electronic connectivity, among others, makes it a gateway of international books to the Middle East. It also offers a "dual trade" license which allows SPCFZ-based companies to promote their products and services within the SPC free zone as well as the UAE mainland's markets. The free zone is fully equipped to deliver on publishers' "print-on-demand" requirements too.

Sharjah Public Library

The Sharjah Public Library (SPL) was established as a private library in 1925 by Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi, under the name "Al Qasimiyah Library." In May 2011, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the new building of the library at the Cultural Palace Square, with the name, Sharjah Public Library.

A treasure trove of arts, literature and sciences, and an array of contemporary resources including a digital library containing 3,008 digital and audiobooks, the five branches of the Library, located across the emirate’s major cities of Dhaid, Dibba Al Hosn, Kalba, Khorfakkan and Wadi Al Helo, have been supporting a diverse range of learners.

SPL is connected to 38,000 libraries and schools worldwide through the "Digital Library Collection," launched in cooperation with OverDrive. SPL also hosts the Sharjah Literature Award in collaboration with SBA, an annual award with a prize money of AED 15,000 (about $4,085) for original research.

Sharjah Book Authority: Sharjah Publishing City

Sharjah Book Authority: Sharjah Libraries

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