Thursday, April 5, 2012

Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2012 attracts 904 exhibitors

Jumbo Editorial Team

The 22nd edition of Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2012 was staged at the National Exhibition Centre in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from March 28 to April 2.

It was reported to have brought together 904 exhibitors from 54 countries, two-thirds of them Arab, and featured a cultural programme that saw meetings with major figures such as Algerian novelist Rachid Boudjedra, Libyan writer Ibrahim al-Koni and Sudanese novelist Amir Tag El-Sir.

The Fair has positioned itself as a user-friendly entry point to Arab publishing for non-Arabic-speaking visitors. The organizers intend to make it a major bridge between the international and the regional publishing industries, and to have the Fair as a professional event on the Frankfurt or London models, rather than as an event designed to bring in a mass audience, as is the case at the Paris and Cairo fairs.

All the events took place in simultaneous English-Arabic translation, and, according to Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chair of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, the intention behind the Fair was to make Abu Dhabi ‘a centre of culture and cosmopolitanism in the region and worldwide’ which was a part of the strategy that includes the building of major museums and other facilities on the city's Saadiyat Island.

These facilities, advertised to visitors as they entered the city by road and including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a branch of the Louvre Museum in Paris designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the Zayed National Museum, designed by British architect Norman Foster, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry, are scheduled to open over the next few years.

The visitors to the Fair left with much to ponder, particularly the event's remarkable growth over its two-decade existence and the greater transparency such events encourage and represent for the contemporary Arab world, with the emphasis being on international partnerships and translation as much as on regional and solely Arabic-language publishing.