SHARJAH, 23rd January, 2017 (WAM) — Sharjah Book Authority, SBA, has announced that the UK would be the “Country of Honour” at the 36th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair, SIBF.

The announcement marks UK-UAE 2017, a year of cultural exchange between the two countries organised by the British Council.

Speaking on the occasion, Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said, “The selection of the UK as the Country of Honour at SIBF 2017 marks the deep-rooted historical ties binding the UAE and the UK, and our long-standing relations based on mutual co-operation and common interests in various domains.”

“The SBA is keen to promote dialogue and communication between cultures, in line with the vision of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, in a bid to build upon the communication bridge and develop knowledge exchange,” he said.

“The British society has given birth to some of the world’s most celebrated names in literature, art, theatre, sports, science and trade, and has contributed immensely to global civilisations,” Al Ameri added.

He said that SIBF 2017 will feature a special stand showcasing the best of the British publishing industry. SIBF will also partner with the British Council to organise a cultural programme that will see distinguished authors from the UK participating in the book fair and other activities held by Sharjah and the UAE as part of a year-long cultural exchange programme between the two nations.

“We are delighted that the UK has been chosen as the Country of Honour as part of UK-UAE 2017. Sharjah has always stressed the importance of books and culture as a force for good and we admire the support the Ruler of Sharjah gives to the creative sector. We look forward to working with the fair to bring Emirati writers to the UK and to take our authors to the UAE,” said Cortina Butler, Director of Literature at the British Council.

SIBF 2016 took place from 2nd to 12th November at Expo Centre Sharjah and the 35th edition of the fair had been the most successful to date. Held under the theme “Read More,” SIBF 2016 welcomed more than 2.31 million visitors – the footfall breaking all previous records since its first edition in 1982.

The volume of book sales at the fair reached AED176 million, the highest ever in its three-and-a-half decade history. Last year’s SIBF hosted 1,681 publishing houses from 60 countries, with approximately 1.5 million titles on display, and its array of programmes included Kids’ Activities, Cultural Activities, Cultural Cafe, Cookery Corner and Social Media Cafe.