A special focus on art, calligraphy, design and illustration; a promise of cooking demonstrations galore by leading chefs from around the world; an in-depth look at 1,000 years of literary and cultural Polish history – these are some of the highlights to look forward to at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) this year. Running for 28 consecutive years since 1981, the event brings the best of the written word to the capital and is a lively hub of literary exchange.
Visitors can find 1,350 exhibitors from 63 countries, and more than half-a-million books in more than 35 languages, alongside 830 events. These range from workshops, seminars and panel discussions to children’s activities, theatre and dance productions, cooking demonstrations and more.
The Year of Zayed
In celebration of the Year of Zayed, the country’s founding father the late Sheikh Zayed will be celebrated as Personality of the Year at this year’s book fair.
A series of talks will explore his shaping of UAE society and will delve into the values and principles he lived by.
The programme will start with a seminar titled Zayed, the Nation-building Leader, and will discuss the UAE’s development and what its formation meant to the region, as well as the importance of female empowerment as laid out by Sheikh Zayed. Following that, a seminar on Sheikh Zayed’s poetry and his influence on poets will be held, presenting his literary prowess. A third talk, titled Cultural Development in the Era of Zayed, will explore Sheikh Zayed’s vision and achievements. The fourth and final seminar, Zayed: Aspects of Leadership and Future-oriented vision, will discuss the prime aspects of his principles and visionary perspective that has today positioned the UAE as a pioneering country.
And for children, a technical workshop about Sheikh Zayed’s relationship with falconry promises to engage young minds.
With Poland as the chosen Guest of Honour at ADIBF this year, a number of Polish authors, translators and 21 publishers, alongside chefs and dancers, will participate in key events throughout the week.
This year, Poland is also celebrating the 100th year of its independence, so there will be a slew of cultural and dramatic representations of its 1,000-year history in literature, with examinations of works by Polish authors over the centuries. Translators of Polish literature into Arabic will also be present to discuss the works of famous writers such as Janusz Korczak, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Wislawa Szymborska, Zbigniew Herbert, Wladyslaw Reymont and the poet Czeslaw Milosz. The Polish pavilion will feature the latest trends in the country’s literature and will highlight the history of Muslims in Poland, which dates back to the 16th century. Guests will have the opportunity to meet Polish authors while children’s authors will conduct readings and workshops.
From Poland, Wojciech Chmielarz, who won the country's top crime-writing award in 2015 for The Takeover, and is known for his four crime novels in the Commissioner Mortka series, and The Vampire, will attend the fair. Novelist and poet Wioletta Greg, whose work was longlisted for last year's Man Booker International Prize, will also make an appearance, as will Andrzej Sapkowski, one of Poland's most popular fantasy authors – best known for The Witcher series. Jakub Malecki, author of the award-winning Tremor, will discuss his new novel Tracks. From the Arab region, keep an eye out for Jordanian playwright and poet Zuhair Abu Shayeb; Tunisian poet and writer Ines Abassi; and Egyptian author Hamzeh Kinawe, described as one of the top 100 Arab writers at the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair. Kuwaiti novelist Hadeel Al Hasawi, whose novel The Mirror the Sun Path is to be published in English, will also be at the fair.
The Show Kitchen
Poland’s cuisine will also feature at the book fair, so expect to sample placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes), borscht soup, light-as-air chrusciki pastries and custard-filled paczki doughnuts. As for the cooking shows, Pawel Kazanowski, head chef of Zuma in Abu Dhabi, will be on hand, as well as Norbert Sokolowski, known for his historical culinary reconstructions from Polish cookbooks from the 16th to 18th centuries, and Maciej Nowicki, head chef at Wilanow in Warsaw’s King Jan III Palace museum. Other notable chefs to look out for include Maria Goretti, TV personality and winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Award last year; Emirati chef Noura Al Amri, teacher of culinary arts and Emirati cuisine at the Mohammed Bin Khalid Al Nahyan Future Generation Society; and runner-up in MasterChef India, Shazia Khan from Bangalore.
The Illustrators’ Corner
Hailing from across the region, a group of 27 creatives – famous painters, calligraphers, animators, graphic designers, comic artists and traditional illustrators – will showcase their artwork at the Illustrators’ Corner. The artists will lead workshops on creating the images to accompany books, allowing visitors of all ages to create their own illustrations. A number of Arab artists will also be available, such as Emirati-based painter and cartoonist Hassan Idelbi and Emirati women art group Dose of Space. This area of the fair will also feature an exhibition of illustrations and drawings from famous and classic novels.
Sea of Tales
This year’s children’s area is the Sea of Tales, an 800-square-metre area in three zones: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Sinbad, and the 1,001 Nights area.
Children can attend workshops on Polish dancing, Arabic calligraphy or weaving; watch puppet shows; conduct science experiments; attend book readings; or play games. Children's authors Ameera bin Kadra, Asma Al Ketbi, Maitha Al Khayat, Nadia Al Najjar and Noura Al Khoori will also read Emirati folk tales, such as Khonfor Zonfor, Umm Al Habban, Entaifan and Bdeiha.
The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair runs from Wednesday April 25 until Tuesday, May 1, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec). Doors will open at 11am on the first day and then open from 9am to 10pm daily, except Friday when the fair runs from 4pm to 10pm. Entrance and workshops are free. See www.adbookfair.com