It's no surprise that all roads leading to Sharjah get crazier than usual come November. The annual Sharjah International Book Fair 6th-16th November is in town for all those who swear by 'love of the written word', as the book fair byline goes. The fair is primarily an exhibition for Middle Eastern publishers but you will find quite a few Subcontinental and Western kiosks too.
The list of publishers on display seems endless, which points to the popularity of the fair in this region. Though literary (children and adults), Islamic and international publications rule the roost, other categories stand out like glistening rare gems. As I trawled the stands, I was in awe of the varieties of publishers that existed, from exclusive law book providers to heritage publishers. The 'Official' publications category boasts publications from unexpected sources like the local police and environmental agencies.
And it's not all just daunting educational books stacked roof high – there's a little something for everyone. For the foodies, along with browsing some great titles for delectable recipes, make sure to stop by the cookery station and gain insight from expert chefs sharing their tips. For the poets, there's a little Poetry Cafe with two rows of chairs for the audience, perfect for an intimate setting of soothing poetry.
A creative Social Media station invites people to 'live tweet' their book fair experience (or pretty much anything) by hashtagging SIBF13 and watching their words appear on a big screen for passersby to see. Each publisher stand has a code which if inserted in the SIBF (Sharjah Int'l Book Fair) mobile application gives the visitor further detailed information about the publisher.
If reading is just not for you, and you prefer speech a whole lot better, attend the author seminars or chat up some of the publishing house owners and you will be enthralled with the rich experiences that colour their lives. One particular book store owner and photojournalist travels to my home country five times a year and returns with a beautiful montage of an unseen side of the land.
Schools visit the fair in the day time but by night too hordes of children flock the place with their parents. From skits to face painting, they don't have a chance to get bored while the adults take their own sweet time browsing the tastefully designed kiosks.