Sharjah International Book Fair ‘Speaks…on Behalf of Islam’

The Sharjah International Book Fair wrapped up on November 14. According to a prepared release, there were 1.227 visitors (or visits) and sales exceeded AED 135M ($37M):

sibfThe massive Sharjah fair has been positioned as part of a culture war, with fair Director Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri saying in the release: “The fair speaks on behalf of not only Sharjah but on behalf of the UAE Arabs and Islam.”

“The fair aims to promote interest in reading and making it a habit for every member of the family so that they may develop their skills understand their past to live the present and prepare for the future,” Ameri said.

The 34th annual Sharjah fair was promoted as both an international space and one that respected local custom. Although there were several assertions that made it sound like the book fair was to be a censorship-free space (here, here, here), Sheikh Muhammad Al-Qasimi also made the case, in his opening remarks, that cultural sensitivities should be respected. He reportedly said that books that attack religious values would not be welcome at the fair.

More than 1,000 events took place during the 11-day fair, making it the largest in the city’s history.