Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be the market focus for The London Book Fair 2020 (LBF), organisers have revealed.
The market focus programme will include a series cultural events celebrating Emirati authors and books, and a professional programme designed to enable and enhance business opportunities. It offers UK and international publishers the chance to forge new business partnerships and expand into global markets.
For Sharjah, which is this year’s UNESCO World Book Capital, this will be a return to the market focus programme as the third largest emirate was one of the 20 states who participated in the Arab World Market Focus in 2008.
SBA) Making the announcement at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival today (25th April), LBF and The Sharjah Book Authority said: “Under the leadership of Sharjah’s ruler, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Sharjah has been committed to the promotion of books and literacy for over 40 years. The city has become a centre for publishing across the Arab World with Sharjah Book Authority’s flagship Sharjah Publishing City (SPC), the influential Sharjah International Book Fair, which will see the 40th anniversary in 2020, and the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival in April.”
In the lead-up to LBF 2020, which will take place from 10th to 12th March, SBA and British Council will offer a reciprocal writer in residence programme. The SBA will offer one British author the chance to be a writer in residence in the UAE and the British Council will offer one Emirati author the chance to be a writer in residence in the UK. This will culminate with both authors visiting LBF to discuss the programme and further enhance cross-cultural dialogue.
At LBF, Sharjah’s market focus pavilion will showcase cultural initiatives from across Sharjah including projects by Al Qasimi Publications, Department of Culture in Sharjah, UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), Kalimat Group and Dr. Sultan Al-Qasimi Centre of Gulf Studies. It will also highlight SBA’s flagship initiative, Sharjah Publishing City (SPC), which is the world’s first publishing and printing free zone, offering premium services and commercial advantages its offers to publishers, authors and other literary professionals from around the world.
LBF director Jacks Thomas said: “As a significant, energetic and forward-looking participant on the global publishing stage, it is fantastic to be welcoming Sharjah as LBF Market Focus 2020. We look forward to working with Sharjah, our strategic partners British Council and the Publishers Association and colleagues across the Arab world to create author exchange programmes and to extend the reach of participating publishers - large and small, international and independents.”
SBA chairman HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri added: “London is the publishing capital of the world and at LBF 2020 we will present Sharjah’s unique cultural journey, that has flourished and expanded beyond the Gulf to establish itself as a global hub. We will showcase the growth in our local and regional publishing sector, and SBA’s specific efforts to boost the number of new translations into and out of Arabic, which are the bedrock of cross-cultural exchange between cultures.”