The UK is the Guest of Honour at the Sharjah International Book Fair

Third largest Book Fair in the world welcomes a host of UK publishers and authors

The UK is the designated Guest of Honour for the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) 2017, as part of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. SIBF takes place on the 1st to 11th November 2017.

SIBF is the largest Book Fair in the Arab Region and the third largest in the world. As Guest of Honour, the UK will showcase excellence in contemporary British publishing, brands and writing as well as the Birmingham Qur’an manuscript, which is a considered a global treasure and is currently held at the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) London Region, ERDF’s Global Growth Project and the UK Publishers Association are organizing a stand at the heart of the Book Fair.  For two dedicated trade days UK publishers attending SIBF will be able to meet new business partners from the entire Arab region and find new export and translation rights trading opportunities. UK exhibitors confirmed to attend, include: Helen McAleer Ltd, Mira Publishing House, Rowman & Littlefield. Austin Macauley, Erly Stage Studios, Gingko Library Ltd and BookBrunch.

Literary initiatives will be presented by The London Book Fair in association with SIBF on the theme of ‘Book and Brand Britain’, an exhibit and content programme that explores the enduring value and flexibility of British brands from the Monarchy to Matilda and other Roald Dahl properties, from Blyton to Bond through to Shakespeare in all formats.

The authors featured in the Book and Brand Britain programme are: Alexandra Shulman OBE , the longest serving editor in British Vogue history stepping away from the role in June of this year; Kate Williams, Claudia Joseph and Giles Lury. Other authors participating in the programme include Mark Billingham, Sarfraz Manzoor, Amanda Prowse, Katherine Woodfine, Mark Ellis, Nicola Cornick, BA Paris, Shahed Saleem and Kiran Millwood Hargreaves.

A programme of literary events highlighting contemporary British writing will be organised by the British Council featuring leading authors Neel Mukherjee and Peter Frankopan.

The University of Birmingham in partnership with the British Council and with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development as strategic partner, will present a digital exhibition of the Birmingham Qur’an manuscript; a piece consisting of two parchment leaves of the Qur’an that have been radiocarbon dated to the early seventh century, making them one of the earliest examples of the Islamic holy book in existence.

The digital exhibition was a key feature of the launch of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Cultural Collaboration, in November 2017, when their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain.

In support of the exhibition of the Birmingham Qur’an, the University of Birmingham, the British Council and The London Book Fair will present a discussion about the history and science of the Birmingham Qur’an in the presence of HH Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi at a specially convened majlis. The leading academics speaking on the panel will be Neelam Hussain, Susan Worrall, Dr. Ali Bin Ibrahim Al Namlah and Dr. Ayman Fuwad Al Sayyed.

Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, said:

“This is the first time that we have had a Country of Honour at the Sharjah International Book Fair and this is a further strengthening of the bond between our two countries.  We look forward to a fruitful cultural exchange, in particular with British authors coming to Sharjah.”

Jacks Thomas, Director of The London Book Fair said:

“Sharjah International Book Fair is an essential gateway to the Arab world and showcases both its own and the wider region’s culture and literature to an enthusiastic and far-reaching audience. It is our honour to be its first Guest of Honour.”

Cortina Butler, Director of Literature at the British Council said:

“UK/UAE 2017 will provide an exceptional opportunity for cultural exchange between UAE and the UK and we are delighted that one of the highlights will be the UK Country of Honour appearance at the Sharjah International Book Fair. Sharjah has always stressed the importance of books and literacy and the Fair is a wonderful platform for us to share the best of UK literature with the people of the Emirates.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood said:

“The Birmingham Qur’an manuscript is of huge significance to Muslim heritage and the academic study of Islam. We are immensely proud to host such a treasure at the University of Birmingham.

“By bringing this interactive digital exhibition to the UAE for the first time, we are privileged to offer an opportunity for people to celebrate this holy work. Together with the development of our campus in Dubai, this exhibition symbolizes the University’s deep commitment to working with partners in UAE to enhance academic opportunities and cultural understanding.”

Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of the UK Publishers Association:

The 2017 Guest of Honour will provide a great platform for UK publishers to visit Sharjah and explore the many opportunities the Emirate and its neighbours have to offer. The PA looks forward to working with its sister organization, the Emirates Publishers Association to maximize relationships and explore partnerships between the UK and UAE publishing industries.”

Jim James, Senior International Trade Adviser, London International Trade Team, from DIT (UK) (Department of International Trade) says:

“The UK has a long-standing and warm relationship with the UAE which has been an important trading partner for many years.  Exports to the UAE are worth over £37million to the UK and we look forward to further enhancing the ties between our two countries.”

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