The UK is the Guest of Honour at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) 2017

The UK is the Guest of Honour at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) 2017

Third largest Book Fair in the world welcomes a host of UK publishers and authors

The UK is the designated Guest of Honour for the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) 2017, as part of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. SIBF takes place on the 1st to 11th November 2017.


SIBF is the largest Book Fair in the Arab Region and the third largest in the world. As Guest of Honour, the UK will showcase excellence in contemporary British publishing, brands and writing as well as the Birmingham Qur’an manuscript, which is a considered a global treasure and is currently held at the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library.


The Department for International Trade (DIT) London Region, ERDF’s Global Growth Project and the UK Publishers Association are organizing a stand at the heart of the Book Fair.  For two dedicated trade days UK publishers attending SIBF will be able to meet new business partners from the entire Arab region and find new export and translation rights trading opportunities. UK exhibitors confirmed to attend, include: Helen McAleer Ltd, Mira Publishing House, Rowman & Littlefield. Austin Macauley, Erly Stage Studios, Gingko Library Ltd and BookBrunch.


Literary initiatives will be presented by The London Book Fair in association with SIBF on the theme of ‘Book and Brand Britain’, an exhibit and content programme that explores the enduring value and flexibility of British brands from the Monarchy to Matilda and other Roald Dahl properties, from Blyton to Bond through to Shakespeare in all formats.


The authors featured in the Book and Brand Britain programme are: Alexandra Shulman OBE , the longest serving editor in British Vogue history stepping away from the role in June of this year; Kate Williams, Claudia Joseph and Giles Lury. Other authors participating in the programme include Mark Billingham, Sarfraz Manzoor, Amanda Prowse, Katherine Woodfine, Mark Ellis, Nicola Cornick, BA Paris, Shahed Saleem and Kiran Millwood Hargreaves.


A programme of literary events highlighting contemporary British writing will be organised by the British Council featuring leading authors Neel Mukherjee and Peter Frankopan.


The University of Birmingham in partnership with the British Council and with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development as strategic partner, will present a digital exhibition of the Birmingham Qur’an manuscript; a piece consisting of two parchment leaves of the Qur’an that have been radiocarbon dated to the early seventh century, making them one of the earliest examples of the Islamic holy book in existence.


The digital exhibition was a key feature of the launch of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Cultural Collaboration, in November 2017, when their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain.

In support of the exhibition of the Birmingham Qur’an, the University of Birmingham, the British Council and The London Book Fair will present a discussion about the history and science of the Birmingham Qur’an in the presence of HH Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi at a specially convened majlis. The leading academics speaking on the panel will be Neelam Hussain, Susan Worrall, Dr. Ali Bin Ibrahim Al Namlah and Dr. Ayman Fuwad Al Sayyed.


Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, said:

“This is the first time that we have had a Country of Honour at the Sharjah International Book Fair and this is a further strengthening of the bond between our two countries.  We look forward to a fruitful cultural exchange, in particular with British authors coming to Sharjah.”


Jacks Thomas, Director of The London Book Fair said:

“Sharjah International Book Fair is an essential gateway to the Arab world and showcases both its own and the wider region’s culture and literature to an enthusiastic and far-reaching audience. It is our honour to be its first Guest of Honour.”


Cortina Butler, Director of Literature at the British Council said:

“UK/UAE 2017 will provide an exceptional opportunity for cultural exchange between UAE and the UK and we are delighted that one of the highlights will be the UK Country of Honour appearance at the Sharjah International Book Fair. Sharjah has always stressed the importance of books and literacy and the Fair is a wonderful platform for us to share the best of UK literature with the people of the Emirates.


University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood said:

“The Birmingham Qur’an manuscript is of huge significance to Muslim heritage and the academic study of Islam. We are immensely proud to host such a treasure at the University of Birmingham.


“By bringing this interactive digital exhibition to the UAE for the first time, we are privileged to offer an opportunity for people to celebrate this holy work. Together with the development of our campus in Dubai, this exhibition symbolizes the University’s deep commitment to working with partners in UAE to enhance academic opportunities and cultural understanding.”


 Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of the UK Publishers Association:

The 2017 Guest of Honour will provide a great platform for UK publishers to visit Sharjah and explore the many opportunities the Emirate and its neighbours have to offer. The PA looks forward to working with its sister organization, the Emirates Publishers Association to maximize relationships and explore partnerships between the UK and UAE publishing industries.”


Jim James, Senior International Trade Adviser, London International Trade Team, from DIT (UK) (Department of International Trade) says:

“The UK has a long-standing and warm relationship with the UAE which has been an important trading partner for many years.  Exports to the UAE are worth over £37million to the UK and we look forward to further enhancing the ties between our two countries.”


… Ends…


For media enquiries, please contact Steven Williams at Midas PR: / 0207 361 7860

Notes to editors:




UK/UAE 2017 is a year of creative collaboration and cultural exchange between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, organised by the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for education and culture, under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and HRH The Prince of Wales. The purpose of UK/UAE 2017 is to celebrate the long-standing relationship between the UK and the UAE, giving it greater focus, depth and contemporary relevance. Throughout 2017, the British Council will collaborate with a wide range of British and Emirati partners to create a diverse programme that spans the arts, literature, education, society, sport, science and trade. Through exploring the ways in which our respective cultural heritage and contemporary creative expression inspires innovation in all sectors and all areas of society, UK/UAE 2017 will strengthen cultural and economic ties between the two nations and identify major opportunities for future collaboration on both sides.


To stay up-to-date with the latest news and programme, please visit the British Council’s UAE website or follow the social media channels on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.


For further information and enquiries, please contact




The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 65 million people directly and 731 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.




The Sharjah International Book Fair began in 1982 and is now the third largest book fair in the world.  Run under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, it is the largest and most important book fair in the Arab Region.  It is organised and managed by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), the agency that oversees book-related activity in the Emirates, and regularly attracts international publishers and authors.  The fair is preceded by a professional programme that sees prominent figures in the industry discuss issues affecting the global publishing community. Since 2014 the fair has also hosted a library conference, organised by the Association of American Libraries, to bring together academics, library professionals, educators and all those who have an interest in book cataloging and library activities to share ideas and best practice.



The London Book Fair (LBF) is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels. Taking place every spring in the world’s premier publishing and cultural capital, it is a unique opportunity to explore, understand and capitalise on the innovations shaping the publishing world of the future. LBF brings you direct access to customers, content and emerging markets. LBF 2018, the 47th Fair, will take place from 10 – 12 April 2018, Olympia London. LBF’s London Book and Screen Week will run for the third year, with the book fair as the pivotal three-day event within a seven-day programme.



The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries. It was established by Queen Victoria in 1900 as Great Britain’s first civic university, where students from all religions and backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis.

The University is renowned for its research excellence and its researchers have received 11 Nobel Prizes. From pioneering organ transplants, discovering gravitational waves and furthering understanding of Shakespeare, to developing cures for cancer, advances in robotics and revealing the structure of DNA, the University has been at the forefront of some of the most ground-breaking discoveries of the last 100 years.



The Publishers Association (the PA) represents book, journal, audio and electronic publishers in the UK, spanning fiction and non-fiction, academic and educational publishing. Our members include global companies such as Elsevier, Wiley, Pearson, Penguin Random House, Hachette and the University presses, as well as many independent publishing houses.

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