31st Abu Dhabi International Book Fair Concludes Seven Days of Memorable Activities


ABU DHABI, UAE: Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) concluded its 31st edition, having welcomed thousands of visitors over its seven-day run from May 23 – 29, 2022, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

Organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the annual fair saw a notable increase in sales of books and publications in various fields of knowledge and culture, as publishing houses participating in the event gave positive feedback of their experience and the large volume of sales completed.  The event welcomed thousands of students from schools across the country, who brought great energy and enthusiasm to the various sections of the Fair.

This year’s edition of the fair boasted a busy agenda of events that stood out for their groundbreaking and serious content, including a professional programme for publishers and workshops to hone creative writing skills. A significant increase was noted in the number of publishers participating in the event, with 1,130 publishers from over 80 countries offering a large selection of literature appealing to diverse audiences. More than 650 cultural, artistic and educational events took place across the week, featuring such distinguished international guests as Nobel laureates and winners of the Booker and Pulitzer Prizes, alongside renowned Arab intellectual and creative minds.

ADIBF 2022 chose the influential Egyptian writer and intellectual Taha Hussein – known as the ‘Dean of Arabic Literature’ – as its ‘Personality of the Year’, highlighting the renowned author and critic’s life and work during the seven-day event, and introducing his work to a new generation.

The Federal Republic of Germany was hosted as the Guest of Honour, with renowned German publishers taking part and a special calendar of activations rolled out throughout the week. The activities highlighted German literary heritage and celebrated the longstanding tradition of cultural exchange between that country and the UAE. It also highlighted the UAE’s efforts in the publishing industry and the conferences sector, further promoting the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on the world stage.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award also celebrated the winners of its 16th edition in a special ceremony at Louvre Abu Dhabi, where renowned thinker Dr. Abdullah Al Ghathami was honoured, in recognition of his illustrious and pioneering career, where he completed landmark studies and research projects that contributed greatly to the cultural movement in the region and the Arab world. Dr. Al Ghathami was awarded the title of ‘Cultural Personality of the Year’.

The 31st Abu Dhabi International Book Fair presented a wide range of diverse events to participants, including the inaugural International Congress of Arab Publishing and Creative Industries, which hosted 300 speakers, publishers and specialists from around the world. It also included the launch of the first edition of the ‘Kanz Al Jeel’ Award, which aims to honour Nabati poetry, as well as heritage studies and research. With a name inspired by one of the poems written by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Award is granted to scholars and creators who submit works that explore Nabati poetry and its values; it seeks to enhance poetry’s standing in society as a mirror of the community.

The 19th edition of the Gulf Book Fair Managers Meeting was also held on the sidelines of the event, resulting in a set of new recommendations to improve book fairs across the region and better support the Arab publishing industry.

His Excellency Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of ALC, said: “Our strategic objectives for the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair were to convey a respectable image that befits the leading position and positive reputation of the UAE and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, in particular. We sought to position Abu Dhabi as a destination of choice for the world’s most prominent cultural events that aim to empower people and promote creativity, knowledge and culture. The Fair embodies the vision of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi to support publishers and pave the way for them to make their competitive return to the market. ADIBF 2022 signalled a new beginning where life returns to the world of culture, shedding light on the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its authenticity, identity, and grand cultural aspirations.

“This year witnessed many cultural and literary firsts in the history of the exhibition, and we wanted to present events with meaningful content to offer visitors a positive, well organised book fair experience, steering attention towards the books sector out of our commitment to following in the footsteps of the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who believed in the importance of the book and its role in the progress and development of societies,” HE bin Tamim added.

A series of diverse talks, panel sessions, exhibits and other events took place throughout the fair, including a special poetry evening with poet Adonis, while the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Economics, Guido Imbens, gave a talk discussing his economic theories.

Tokyo-born artist Fuad Honda, widely recognised as one of the world’s top Arabic calligraphers, delighted fans with an exhibition and book launch at the fair, which also included panel discussions to introduce winners of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2022 and the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, affiliated with the Booker Prize, along with a series of panels, activities, and workshops targeting book-lovers and all segments of the community.