Abu Dhabi: After a seven-day run that captivated book enthusiasts and included major deals to elevate the Arabic written word, the 30th edition of Abu Dhabi International Book Fair has come to a close.
Thousands of visitors attended the event, which included workshops, forums and performances centred around the world of reading. For the first time, the event was carried out in a hybrid manner, with the organisation of both virtual sessions and onsite activations.
The event was organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the emirate’s culture sector regulator, and its Arabic preservation and modernisation wing, Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC).
Dh6 million grant
A number of major announcements were also made during the fair’s run. On the very first day, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, declared a Dh6 million grant for the purchase of books for UAE public schools.
A deal concluded at the fair between ALC and European publishing house, Brill, will see an Arabic language peer-reviewed journal published in 2022. Al Markaz: The Journal of Arabic Studies will have two editions in 2022, both published entirely in Arabic for both Print and Web. The journal will cover topics in Arabic language, literature and culture from the pre-Islamic period to the present day, and include critical reviews of books and events concerning Arab studies. Readers will be able to gain insight into subjects such as classical Arabic language, spoken dialects, written and oral Arabic heritage, poetry and prose, as well as comparative studies.
Reference and audiobooks
ALC will also soon oversee the development of a series of Arabic audiobooks. A total of 100 Arabic works of literature and prose will be converted, with a full edition and a brief summary of each work. The project aims to connect today’s readers with literary gems of the past, the ALC announced in a release.
Another project will make available 100 books, issued over the last five decades, which focus on the UAE’s transformation. This Emirati Treasures initiative aims to build a reference repository for anyone wishing to learn about the UAE, its history and its development. Once the 100 books are launched and published, an additional 15 titles will be released every year, with a number of them translated from, and into, Arabic.
The book fair was one of the first major events to be held since the emirate implemented strict COVID-19 precautionary measures in March 2020. Conducted in a safe manner, it saw the participation of more than 800 exhibitors from 46 countries. More than 500,000 titles were available for purchase, and events were organised both online as well as in-person so that a wide number of residents could be engaged.
Strict COVID-19 precautionary measures were also in place, with visitors aged 12 years and older having to present negative COVID-19 test results with 48-hour validity to be present at the fair venue physically.