Day 1: Impressions from the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Today marked the opening of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, and its first cultural events began this afternoon. The opening of the fair was quiet as publishers finished setting up their displays.

A number of children’s-book publishers and distributors expressed worry, as Abu Dhabi schools are not in session this week. In contrast to the Cairo Book Fair — which is timed to a mid-winter break so that children can attend — children in Abu Dhabi have in past years been given vouchers at schools and bused to the fair.

The vouchers are still available — and children are still welcome — but vouchers must be picked up at the fair. Attendance picked up somewhat as the day wore on, and the first public events, including a talk by Palestinian-American author and activist Susan Abulhawa and the launch of the “illustrators corner” (both pictured below), were held.

Artists were setting up their displays in the illustrators corner.
As at this year's Cairo International Book Fair, the Saudis had a large, central display that featured religious books, visual art, and materials for children.
There was a display of a traditional kuttab alongside brightly colored drawing tables.

Zeyna al-Jabri, founder of Buzoor, had some beautiful new children's books this fair.
Samer al-Kadri of Bright Fingers. As a Syrian publisher, he was frozen out of the lucrative Riyadh Book Fair this year, and sales have stopped in Syria. So insha'allah they will move a few books this week in Abu Dhabi.
The country focus this year is the UK, although they aren't as flash as the KSA.
At one of the fair's first cultural events, novelist and activist Susan Abulhawa talks about her novel Mornings in Jenin, which is just out in Arabic translation.