Sharjah World Book Capital: 10 events to add to your diary for the next 12 months

Sharjah’s year as Unesco World Book Capital launches tonight – these are the events you won't want to miss

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Sharjah's year as Unesco World Book Capital launches tonight with 1001 Nights: The Last Chapter and it is going to be a joyous 12 months for book-lovers in the emirate. A number of exciting literary events are taking place each month, including a country-wide book collection for underprivileged children, first-rate exhibitions and a storytelling festival.

We've selected three unmissable events, but don't forget to browse the extensive programme, seek out the strange and the unfamiliar and enjoy a year of broadening your literary horizons – just remember to set aside time to actually read some books.

‘Kan Ya ma Kan’ Book Donation Campaign

When: May 5-25
Where: Al Majaz Amphitheatre

Part of an initiative by the UAE Board on Books for Young People to provide reading material to children in countries riven by war and natural disaster, this campaign calls on people to donate good-quality books to be redistributed to those most in need. Scour your shelves, be honest with yourself about the books you really want to keep, and bring as many as possible to the Al Majaz Amphitheatre.

The Mobile Beach Library

When: June 15
Where: Sharjah beaches

What better way to spend an afternoon than stretched out on the sand with a favourite book? Clear the diary on June 15 and head to any of Sharjah’s beaches, where you will find mobile libraries lending books for free. The libraries will be well-stocked with books of all genres for every age, so rally your family and friends and make a day of it.

Exhibition: Evolution of Arabic Calligraphy

When: July 7-October 15
Where: Sharjah Calligraphy Museum

Trace the evolution of Arabic fonts through paintings and written texts. Arabic calligraphy remains one of the most elegant art forms and this show will celebrate the very best practitioners of it through the centuries.

Exhibition: The Silk Road

When: From July 19 
Where: Maraya Art Centre – Al Qasba

The Silk Road was a trade route linking the East and the West, allowing for the sharing of ideas and the mixing of cultures. This exhibition, which was a hit at the recent Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, recreates the Silk Road with camels, music and caravans of people. Interactive activities along the route will keep the children entertained, while information about four key cities along the route – Xi’an, Turfan, Samarkand and Baghdad – will get the grey matter working.

Celebrating World Youth Day

When: August 12
Where: Emirates Publishers Association’s Office, Sharjah Publishing City Theatre

The Emirates Publishers Association will invite writers to come and speak to the UAE’s young literati about how to become an author or find a job in the publishing industry.

Sharjah International Storytelling Festival

When: September 26-28
Where: Expo Centre

Launched in 2001, this uplifting festival celebrates the oral storytelling tradition. As with all literary events in Sharjah this year, it should be bigger and better than ever before.

Saudis attend the Sharjah International Book Fair in Sharjah, northeast of Dubai, on October 31, 2018. The fair will be held between October 31 and November 10, 2018. / AFP / KARIM SAHIB

Sharjah International Book Fair

When: October 30-November 9
Where: Expo Centre

Always a major event in the publishing calendar, the Sharjah International Book Fair brings together publishers, authors, artists and filmmakers from around the world. Stock up on books, feast on literary talks and dive into conversations with like-minded souls. Not to be missed.

Sharjah Arabic Poetry Festival

When: Jan 5-10
Where: Cultural Palace

Poets from the region will perform and take part in seminars in this annual exchange of ideas, which will be given an extra boost this year due to Sharjah’s status as World Book Capital. Old and new collide, as local poetic traditions are celebrated and the next generation of poets are given a platform to express themselves.

The Used Book Fair

When: February 26-March 1
Where: Al Nakheel park, Khalid Lagoon Corniche

There are few things better than finding a gem of a second-hand book at a pinch of the original price. With books ranging from Dh2 to Dh200, this book fair is the place to fill your arms with paperbacks, which you probably won't read but will at least look good on your bookshelf.

Exhibition: Hans Christian Andersen

When: February 26-April 25
Where: Sharjah Art Museum

The Danish writer responsible for some of the world's best-known fairy-tales, including The Little Match Girl, The Snow Queen and The Ugly Duckling, is celebrated in this exhibition featuring paintings and original texts.

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