Sharjah announced as LBF Market Focus next year

Jo Henry
News - International Thursday, 25 April 2019

The London Book Fair and The Sharjah Book Authority have today announced Sharjah as the Market Focus at LBF 2020

Jacks Thomas, director of the London Book Fair, handed over the glass trophy that signified Indonesia ceding Market Focus status to Sharjah for next year’s Book Fair to His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council and ruler of Sharjah.

The new relationship between the London Book Fair and Sharjah is the culmination of 14 years of working together. "During those years we have all watched with great joy as the love of books and the Sharjah international book industry has evolved from the strong base established by his Highness over 40 years ago to the international power-house it is today." said Thomas. "Sharjah is the gateway to the Arab publishing world and we look forward to our Market Focus programme, with strategic partners the British Council and the UK Publishers Association."

The inauguration ceremony was held at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival in the presence of the Sheikh and HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, Gavin Anderson, British Council, Country Director for UAE and LBF's Jacks Thomas.

The London Book Fair Market Focus programme, with partners the British Council and supported by the PA, will include a programme of cultural events celebrating Emirati authors and books, and a professional programme designed to enhance business opportunities.

Now in its 16th year, LBF’s Market Focus has seen over 40 countries and regions from across the globe participating, including Mexico, South Africa, China, Australia, Korea and 2019’s Market Focus Indonesia. For Sharjah this will be a return to the Market Focus programme as it was one of the 20 states who participated in the Arab World Market Focus in 2008.

Under the leadership of Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Sharjah has been committed to the promotion of books and literacy for over 40 years. It has become a centre for publishing across the Arab World with Sharjah Book Authority’s flagship Sharjah Publishing City (SPC), the influential Sharjah International Book Fair, which will see the 40th anniversary in 2020, and the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival in April. This week Sharjah also celebrates the start of its year as UNESCO World Book Capital.

Thomas added: "The London Book Fair Market Focus programme showcases not only the publishing industry and output of a country but also the culture and people its literature reflects. Crosscultural exchange as a conduit to greater understanding is at the heart of the programme. As a significant, energetic and forward-looking participant on the global publishing stage, it is fantastic to be welcoming Sharjah as LBF Market Focus 2020. We look forward to working with Sharjah, our strategic partners British Council and the Publishers Association and colleagues across the Arab world to create author exchange programmes and to extend the reach of participating publishers - large and small, international and independents.”

HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of SBA, said: "We are delighted to be LBF Market Focus in 2020, to reinforce the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council and ruler of Sharjah, to strengthen bridges of cultural communication around the world. We believe in the power of books to foster knowledge, broaden horizons and open dialogue.

"London is the publishing capital of the world and at LBF 2020 we will present Sharjah’s unique cultural journey, that has flourished and expanded beyond the Gulf to establish itself as a global hub. We will showcase the growth in our local and regional publishing sector, and SBA’s specific efforts to boost the number of new translations into and out of Arabic, which are the bedrock of cross-cultural exchange between cultures."

Cortina Butler, director literature at the British Council said: "We are delighted that Sharjah will be The London Book Fair Market Focus in 2020. This will provide a timely opportunity to celebrate Emirati literature and Arabic writing generally, 12 years after the Arab World focus. The British Council looks forward to working with the SBA to build long-term cultural links between the literature communities here in the UK and in the UAE, with a special focus on Arabic/English translation and writer exchanges."

"It’s entirely appropriate’, said Gavin Anderson, British Council Country Director of the UAE, "that two of the most significant book fairs globally are choosing to deepen their collaboration. In this year of Sharjah’s Book Capital, this will only strength Sharjah’s role as a city, as an emirate, of culture and as the home of reading."

Pictured (l-r): Gavin Anderson, British Council country director UAE, Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority Jacks, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi and LBF's Jacks Thomas

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