A family guide to the 2024 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, from Batman to Scrabble

Rare Qurans, life-size board games with live commentary and cultural education are on offer at this year's literary event

Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is open to the public until Sunday. Victor Besa / The National
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The final weekend of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is when families come out to play.

After days of meetings and deal makings by authors and publishers, the vast space at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre makes way for big crowds.

The fair is open to the public until Sunday and entry is free upon registration.

Here are five things you won't want to miss:

1. Rare Qurans and manuscripts

The book fair is a haven for international antiquarian book sellers. From Germany and Switzerland to the UK, they return to Abu Dhabi to sell rare editions of regionally relevant titles.

At the centre of the fair you can find the all-white pavilion belonging to a trio of sellers, including the UAE’s Eqtna and Forum Antiquariaat from the Netherlands, home to some rare gems, including a 15th century Quran stemming back to China’s Ming Dynasty and an 18th century Arabic-Italian dictionary comprising 9,000 words.

While solo buyers are known to snap up some of the pieces, regional cultural organisations, such as museums and universities, also acquire rare works, an ADIBF employee tells The National.

2. The wonders of the Chinese abacus

Learn about the intricate design and function of the Chinese abacus at the Abacus Cultural Heritage stand in Hall 10. Part of the China's book fair programme, you can learn how they are fitted and used to solve arithmetic sequences from addition and subtraction to extracting quare and cubic roots.

3. A life-size game of Scrabble

Ever played Scrabble with a sports-style commentary?

A major draw of this year’s fair is a life-size Scrabble game, where four players battle it out to find the highest-scoring word. An umpire walks around the pitch to ensure the spelling is right and a commentator is on hand to shout 'bravo' for the winner.

Located in Hall 7, the feature is part of an all-encompassing education section featuring children’s literature and learning tools.

4. Train your future Batman

The 85th anniversary of the Batman comic is celebrated with a kid-friendly pavilion. Styled as a training centre for “future superheroes,” children are put through a series of obstacles before they are deemed ready to become the next Dark Knight. To beef up their credentials, an impressive looking replica of the batmobile is on hand for photos on the way out.

5. An old Cairo bookshop

A throwback to Cairo's famed book market can be experienced at the book fair. Located at Hall 10, the Souq Azbakeya is named after western districts of Cairo. Here you can find a range of sellers selling relatively affordable Arabic novels and copies of old Egyptian pop-culture magazines.

Posters, ranging from Dh20 to Dh50, of some of the region’s famous Egyptian songbirds are available.

With Egypt this year’s guest of honour, the Souq Azbakeya is part of a vast Egyptian-inspired programme, including a multimedia pavilion dedicated to author Naguib Mahfouz.

More information is available at adbookfair.com

Updated: May 03, 2024, 8:16 AM