A new 2 million UED (£365,907.56) award for translation was announced at the opening of the 34th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) yesterday (Wednesday 4th November).
The Sharjah Award for Translation was created as part of efforts by Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad al Qasimi, the ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to promote the Arabic culture and language and to persuade Arab leaders to "put out the fire of sedition and raise the flag of knowledge." The prize will be given to a title translated from Arabic into any other language.
The award is sponsored by Air Arabia and will be run by the new Sharjah Book Authority which also has plans to create a ‘publishing hub’ and free zone in the emirate.
In light of the recent controversy at Frankfurt Book Fair, which Iran boycotted because Salman Rushdie was invited to give a key note address, al Qasimi said in his opening address that "almost all" books are allowed at SIBF unless they contain hate speech about a person or a religion. He said: "At the Sharjah International Book Fair almost all books are allowed. But to attack a person, or God, or the principles of any religion — we do not accept this. I don’t think we should mix culture with political ideologies.”
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Khalid al-Faisal Al Saud was guest of honour this year, with Bloomsbury executive director Richard Charkin among the guests at the top table.
There are 1,547 publishers from 69 countries at this year’s fair, which runs until 14th November.
A number of awards were given at the opening ceremony, among them the Best International Publisher, which went to National Book Trust, India; Best Arabic Novel for Guest of Darkness by Zeyad Ahmed Mahafza, published by Dar Fadaat Publishing House in Jordan; Best International Fiction to City of Spies by Soraya Khan (Aleph Book Publishing); Best International non-fiction to No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald (Macmillan); and a posthumous Special Recognition award for the Egyptian novelist Gamal El Ghitani who died on 18th October.