2023 Sharjah Book Fair: Seven sessions to attend, from Bassem Youssef to Kareena Kapoor

The Sharjah showcase is one of the biggest book fairs in the world

From left: Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir, Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor Khan and Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef will appear at the 2023 Sharjah International Book Fair. AFP, Alamy
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From bestselling authors and intellectuals to Bollywood stars and Arab singers, the Sharjah International Book Fair returns with another expansive programme.

Running from Wednesday until next Saturday at the Expo Centre Sharjah, the event will see more than 120 speakers feature in a range of sessions, from workshops to keynote addresses.

This is on top of the more than 2,000 publishers setting up stands within the site to sell their latest titles.

With entry to the book fair free of charge, here are seven key sessions to see.

1. Keynote speaker's session with Kadim Al Sahir

While being a prolific performer, revered Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir rarely does media interviews, let alone appearances at a literary event.

Moderated by TV presenter Nada Al Shaibani and billed as a “meeting with” the Iraqi singer, fans and culture lovers will be able to hear Sahir discuss his successful career, creative impulses and some of the stories behind his biggest songs.

8pm-9pm; Friday, November 3; ballroom

2. Keynote speaker's session with Kareena Kapoor

The book fair has a history of inviting Bollywood royalty, including Shah Rukh Khan and Gulshan Grover.

This year it will be Kareena Kapoor's turn to command a large crowd as she regales fans with anecdotes from her career, including films Jab We Met and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.

Expect Kapoor to shed light on writing her 2012 book Kareena Kapoor Khan's Pregnancy Bible.

8pm-10pm; Saturday, November 4; ballroom

3. Revealing the Enigma: Learning Compelling Suspense in Plot and Character Development

Learn from the best in this anticipated session by US author Alex Finlay.

Renowned for bestselling thrillers The Night Shift and Every Last Fear, which is currently in development to become a TV series, Finlay will break down the characteristics of a suspenseful plot as well as provide tips on creating arresting characters.

The session will be followed by a book signing by the author.

11am-12pm; Thursday, November 9; Forum 2

4. Keynote speaker's session with Ahlam Mosteghanemi

The Algerian poet, novelist and media personality Ahlam Mosteghanemi has attracted a large following for her lyrical, and sometimes controversial, works.

She returns to the book fair to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her debut novel, Memories of the Flesh, which is considered one of the landmarks of Arabic literature, with more than a million copies sold. Mosteghanemi will also take part in a book signing for her new book, I Became You.

6pm-10pm; Thursday, November 9; Intellectual Hall

5. Keynote speaker's session with Bassem Youssef

Fresh from his much-discussed interview with UK journalist Piers Morgan about the Israel-Gaza war, Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef will come to the book fair for an in-conversation series.

While details on the session are sparse, the event is billed as a “public dialogue,” so we can expect Youssef to hone in on some of the major issues facing the world today, as well as his creative journey.

8pm-9.30pm; Friday, November 10; ballroom

6. Keynote speaker's session with Malcolm Gladwell

Returning to the UAE after his appearance at the World Conference on Creative Economy at Expo 2020 Dubai, journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell will give a keynote address.

Gladwell is the author of bestselling pop psychology books Outliers and The Tipping Point.

6pm-7pm; Saturday, November 11; ballroom

7. A Star in Space with Sunita Williams

The former record holder for the most spacewalks by a woman, Nasa astronaut Sunita Williams will share her insights from her celebrated career.

From life in the International Space Station and being the commander of a 2012 space expedition, Williams will explain some of the lessons learnt from her intergalactic adventures.

8pm-9pm; Thursday, November 9; ballroom

More information is available at www.sibf.com

Updated: November 03, 2023, 12:30 PM