What’s new at this year’s Abu Dhabi International Book Fair?

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) 2024, which will run from today until May 5, will host 1,350 publishers from 90 countries, of whom 140 publishers are participating for the first time.

Being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, the fair is also featuring 375 local exhibitors, including publishers, distributors and government entities, who will be presenting their latest releases.

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New activities

This year, the fair is introducing the “Book of the World” pillar that focuses on one different influential book, which has influenced the literary and cultural process around the world across time.

While debates are being presented for the third year in a row, what is new this year is the organisation and management of these debates using the internationally recognised Oxford method, a first for the Arab world.

This year’s “Podcast from Abu Dhabi” pillar includes the “Thmanyah” podcast from Saudi Arabia and the “El-Podcasters” podcast from Egypt, also participating for the first time.

As part of Thmanyah’s first participation in the fair, a mural titled “Thmanyah Writes and the World Reads” will be displayed at one of the fair’s entrances, featuring historical figures who influenced global culture.

The fair is also introducing images of popular Arab folk book markets, beginning with Egypt’s famous El Azbakeya Wall.

This is in addition to the “Forum of Arabic Content for Children and Youth”, where the professional programme will be held for the first time, targeting writers, illustrators, publishers and creators from this sector.

Image is a language

The fair has also introduced the “Image Is a Language” exhibition at the Arts Corner, which represents a dialogue between languages and alphabets, as well as the history of the image in the UAE and around the world, beginning with pre-historic cave inscriptions, alphabets and languages, all the way to sign language and software. This will be presented with the beginning of image, photography and digital photography sections at the exhibition.

For the first time in the UAE, the American University of Cairo’s Alumni Folklore Group will take part in the Musical Programme, with a collection of folklore dances choreographed by Pinky Selim, and a dance choreographed by Mahmoud Reda, a pioneer of the Egyptian “Theatre Dance”.

Children’s programmes

As part of the Children and Youth Programmes, young visitors will be able to challenge their intelligence with the Arabic “Scrabble” game and solve mysteries at the Escape Room, both designed specifically for the fair.

Another highlight is “Where the World’s Tales Unfold”, which arises from the fair’s meeting of world cultures, beginning with the culture of the Guest of Honour, Egypt. This is in addition to presenting cultures from the different continents of the world through pavilions for publishers from different countries. The fair is also hosting the World’s Cuisines Corner and a special Children and Youth Programme.

Chinese participation

This year’s Chinese participation is considered the largest for China at any book fair in the world, with an official Chinese delegation consisting of 70 guests from 80 Chinese publishing houses being present across nine pavilions. The Chinese delegation includes publishers, officials, writers and translators, as well as nine Chinese companies from six Chinese provinces. They will participate in 15 different Chinese cultural, professional and artistic events.

This year, India is being represented by 23 Indian publishing houses, as well as through various events in the Cultural Programme and the World’s Cuisines Corner.

13 sessions

This year’s fair features a full programme for the Focus Personality, with 13 sessions including dialogues, a round table, and sessions on Naguib Mahfouz’s Worlds.

The fair also features a special pavilion for Naguib Mahfouz, which apprises visitors on the life of Mahfouz, his achievements and his works, as well as a collection of rare behind-the-scenes photos of cinematic works from the great photographer Mahmoud Bakr’s archive.

Artist Ahmed Nofal will also present a graffiti artwork representing Naguib Mahfouz’s historical novels during the fair.

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