Germany in the Spotlight at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

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Moving its full guest of honor program to 2022, Germany is at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair this year with digital programming and a German collective stand.

The ‘German Stories’ stand at the 2021 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, which runs through May 29. Image: ADIBF

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Stimulating Exchange Within the Industry’
As the circumstances of this spring’s status in the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic have evolved, one challenge for book fairs has been the scheduling of their guest of honor programs, special program that highlights a specific international publishing market.

With Germany scheduled as the 2021 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair’s guest of honor, it’s been arranged by the fair’s organizers in association with Frankfurter Buchmesse that this year’s program will be primarily a digital one—with a Books From Germany stand on the physical exhibition floor—and that in 2022, Guest of Honor Germany will return with a complete large-scale presentation and extensive programming.

In effect, then, we’re looking at two years of Germany’s presence at the Abu Dhabi fair, with instructive and illuminating programming in both 2021 and 2022.

In preparing for this year’s Guest of Honor Germany program of both professional issue-driven sessions and cultural conversations, we’ve turned to Claudia Kaiser, Frankfurt’s vice-president for business development with several questions for some context.

We start by asking Kaiser to tell us a bit about this special two-year approach.

Claudia Kaiser: This year’s edition of the show marks the start of the Guest of Honor Germany program at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, which will culminate in 2022 with its large-scale presence.

Claudia Kaiser

In 2021, Germany will present itself with a professional program on topics of interest to the Arab market, with an aim of stimulating exchange within the industry.

We’re pleased that we can use this year to initiate important contacts in the rights and licensing business digitally. Furthermore, we can still offer our exhibitors the opportunity to present their books at our stand, and we’ll put together an attractive hybrid trade program that will showcase trends and aspects in the publishing and creative industries, as well as cultural diversity.

Highlights of the program include talks and panels with German writers Navid Kermani, Ulla Lenze, Pierre Jarawan, author and translator Stefan Weidner and with the historian Joseph Croitoru.

Publishing Perspectives: Indeed, we’re glad to have interviews here in our magazine with Lenze and Jarawan about their work, as well. How do you see the level of trade in rights and licensing between the United Arab Emirates and other parts of the Arab world and Germany?

CK: Publishers from the Arab world are important licensing partners for German publishers, and we’re pleased about the continuing high level of interest in German titles and authors. But there’s a lot of room for growth.

At the German stand on the exhibition floor of the 2021 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Image: ADIBF

We still need to learn more about each others’ publications, and one of our aims with our guest of honor presence is to improve that.

Our professional program will look at this topic from different angles. While most seminars are about the selling and buying of rights in a general sense, the seminar you mentioned focuses on co-productions and contracts with illustrators, as opposed to authors. Illustrators are very much in demand in Abu Dhabi, and this should be an important part of the business to discuss.

Our professional program however also includes sessions on the development of audiobooks in the Arab world and Europe and the business models being used. We’re also looking at how ebooks and online book sales are developing in our parts of the world. And we’ll take a closer look at the market for books in Arabic in Germany and Europe.

PP: We’re glad to hear about the value of these connections between Europe and the Middle East and the chance the guest of honor program has to explore this. There’s quite a legacy of cooperation, isn’t there?

CK: Frankfurt Book Fair has been active in Arab countries for many years, organizing German collective stands at book fairs in Cairo and Abu Dhabi. We’ve also been present in the past at Beirut, in Oman, and in other places. We offer cultural programs and professional seminars throughout the Arab world on topics such as copyright, trade in rights and licenses, and translation.

Our offerings are aimed at the book industry, but also at consumers, with a goal of connecting both worlds and facilitating a knowledge transfer.

In this way, a network of competent literary mediators, translators, and partner institutions has grown over decades and we use these contacts to introduce German readers to Arabic literature and culture—and vice-versa.


More on the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is here in our special landing page for all our coverage.

For your free copy of our specially produced 2021 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair Show Magazine, click here. There’s a video look at what’s in this 30-page magazine embedded for you below.

More on Guest of Honor Germany and Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, and more on the United Arab Emirates’ market is here. More from us on book fairs and trade shows is here. More on translation is here, and more on Arabic in the publishing world is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the media partner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and the International Publishers Association. Our extended coverage of ADIBF 2021 is supported by the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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