Sharjah Ruler orders the purchase of Dh10 million worth of books from annual book fair

Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi also excused Lebanese publishers from paying stand rental fees

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: Razmig Bedirian. Arts and Culture. A visitor to Sharjah International Book Fair reads a book. Thursday, November 5th, 2020. Sharjah. Courtesy of Nathaniel Alapide

A helping hand has been extended to publishers participating at this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), in a bid to help stabilise the regional publishing industry after the unprecedented events of this year.

More than Dh10 million worth of books are set to be purchased from publishers taking part in the fair, which is now in its 39th year, following a directive from Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah.

This isn't the first time the Sharjah Ruler has contributed a sizeable sum to the industry, but this year's purchasing grant was particularly substantial, acknowledging the challenges faced by publishers after the start of the pandemic.

The books and resources purchased at the fair will become part of the existing literary collections and academic materials available in various branches of Sharjah Public Library across the emirate, as well as libraries in Sharjah’s government departments and academic institutions.

The grant will help expand these collections by adding the latest releases from Arab and international publishing houses. The titles acquired range from history, literature and politics to arts, sciences and technology.

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: Razmig Bedirian. Arts and Culture. A stall holder at Sharjah International Book Fair. Thursday, November 5th, 2020. Sharjah. Chris Whiteoak / The National

“Through this grant, the Ruler of Sharjah has been emphasising that empowering libraries with the latest products of knowledge and culture is a direct investment in the future of Sharjah and the UAE,” said Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority.

“These will enable children and the youth to broaden their intellectual horizons and develop their cultural understanding of the world, to become active partners in national development.”

The Sharjah Ruler also issued a directive that excused Lebanese publishers exhibiting at the fair from paying rental fees for their stands. The exemptions, which are valued at more than Dh640,000, were introduced to support Lebanese publishing houses and libraries after the devastating Beirut port explosion in August.

The directive shows Sharjah's dedication to "our brothers and sisters in their time of need", said Al Ameri.

"Having offered similar privileges to publishers from Syria, Egypt and other nations in SIBF’s previous editions, this is a continuation of our tradition to support publishers in the Arab world who Sharjah views as the true guardians of Arabic language, literature and culture.”