At New Delhi Book Fair: Sharjah Highlights Indian Publishers’ Engagement

In News by Porter Anderson

The Sharjah Book Authority sent a special delegation to the 2024 New Delhi World Book Fair for meetings.

At New Delhi World Book Fair 2024, the Sharjah Book Authority stand on the exhibition floor. Image: SBA

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

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At Sharjah’s Fair, Indian Presses Outnumber Other International Groups
One of the ways that Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (called SPC Free Zone locally now) has been able to illustrate its positioning as a gateway to the Arab world and to many North African markets has been its emphasis on quick access by air and from India.

This was evident earlier this month, as Sharjah Book Authority worked with exhibitors and trade visitors at the 51st New Delhi World Book Fair, which was organized by the National Book Trust of India.

One of the messages carried into Delhi by Book Authority CEO Ahmed Al Ameri was that Indian publishers comprise the largest group of international publishers at Sharjah International Book Fair. That public-facing book fair, in its 12-day run at Sharjah Expo in November—the fair’s 42nd iteration—reportedly drew more than 1.2 million visitors from 109 countries, displaying a record 15+million books and hosting 2,033 publishers, following the Book Authority’s annual Sharjah Publishers Conference professional programming.

Ahmed Al Ameri

Al Ameri, in a statement to the news media, says, “Sharjah’s participation in the New Delhi World Book Fair reflects the international influence of the emirate’s cultural project, led by Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.

“This initiative not only enlightens visitors and Indian readers about our rich cultural heritage but also symbolizes the deep-rooted historical and cultural connections between the United Arab Emirates and India, dating back to the trade ties established in the pre-oil era.

“The New Delhi World Book Fair is a crucial part of our strategy to elevate the cultural profile of the UAE and the Arab world globally. Books will always be the premier envoys for cross-cultural communication and dialogue between nations, highlighting the humanitarian and civil values that Sharjah, the UAE, and the international community strive to uphold.”

Delhi’s event this year is reported to have had participation from some 40 nations in its professional programming, with some 500 business meetings between trade visitors from the Bangladesh, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Italy, Spain, Argentina, France, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia was guest of honor at New Delhi’s 2024 event, its programming including a reported 50 presentations, and the New Delhi fair’s theme this year was “Multilingual India: A Living Tradition.” One new feature of the show was a “Festival of Festivals” that brought together input from literary festivals regularly staged in many parts of India.

‘A Crucial Part of Our Strategy’

A key part of the Sharjah presence this year at New Delhi’s fair this year was a showcase of Emirati and Arab works translated into Hindi from Arabic, a display running from fiction, both long-form and stories, to poetry, dramaturgy, and nonfiction encompassing science writing, history, education, and the arts.

In a way, Sharjah’s team from the Book Authority became a kind of supportive house call on Indian publishers who hold such a presence at Sharjah Publishing City and were, themselves, exhibiting at the New Delhi show.

Bodour Al Qasimi

The Book Authority, which is chaired by the Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, president of the American University at Sharjah, discussed opportunities for cooperative efforts with the New Delhi show’s organizers from the National Book Trust India.

The exchange focused on how the two agency’s fairs can benefit publishers from both countries, the Indian cohort at Sharjah International Book Fair (set this year for November 1 to 12), and Sharjan publishing professionals at the New Delhi World Book Fair (planned now for February 1 to 9, 2025).

An initiative “symbolizing the deep-rooted historical and cultural connections between the United Arab Emirates and India, dating back to the trade ties established in the pre-oil era.”Ahmed Al Ameri, Sharjah Book Authority

Sharjah’s team also met with the Federation of Indian Publishers to understand the union’s initiatives and the local market’s opportunities and challenges.

While in New Delhi, the Sharjah Book Authority group met with publishers including publishing houses such as Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Scholastic, Homes Book Parkers, and Kapscal. Those discussions were focused on  translation, distribution, and promotion of Arabic and Emirati books in India, with an emphasis, Publishing Perspectives understands, on children’s and young adult books, and education.

The next major international publishing event is Sharjah’s Booksellers Conference and the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, both in April.

At Sharjah International Book Fair 2023. Image: SBA

More from Publishing Perspectives on Sharjah Book Authority is here, more on the Sharjah International book Fair is here, more on Sharjah and its programs overall is here, more on the book publishing industry in the United Arab Emirates is here. More from us on the New Delhi World Book Fair is here, more on the National Trust India is here, more on the Federation of Indian Publishers is here, more on the Indian book market is here, and more on international trade shows and book fairs 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 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 was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.