(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Several changes have been planned for the 22nd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF), which will take place this year at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from March 28 to April 2.
"We have removed about 50 per cent of last year's activities that were least popular and replaced them with new ones," Jumaa Abdulla Al Qubaisi, Director, ADIBF, told Khaleej Times.
To start with, the fair expanded its number of participants by 10 per cent, offering greater choice in book titles. There will be 904 exhibitors from 54 countries, two thirds of whom are from the Arab world. Altogether, they will showcase over half a million titles in 33 languages.
Among the new initiatives this year are the Tawaqee (Autographs), which will allow readers to interact with authors and get their newly purchased books signed by participating writers. During book signing events, the first 50 readers will get copies of the book for free.
Some of the prominent authors expected at the fair are Ibrahim Al Koni, Alia Mambouh, Emily Nasrallah, James J Zogby, Rachid Boudjedra, Susan Abulhawa, Youssef Ziedan and the much celebrated graphic novelist duo Khalil and Amir.
Dr Amir Taj Al Sir, whose novel The Hunter of the Chrysalises which has been nominated for the Arabic Booker Prize in 2011 will also be part of Autographs sessions.
As part of the cultural programme, Arab and international authors will come together to hold a diverse mix of panels, discussions, debates and more book signing sessions. These will happen either at the fair's Kitab Sofa, where public interviews and talks take place daily, or at the Tent, a new venue inspired by the Arabic majlis, where the public is invited to meet authors, hear poetry recitals and take part in writing workshops. The Professional Programme will involve a series of panels, matchmaking, talks, roundtables and presentations targeted at assessing the state of today's book publishing industry.
The children's Creativity Corner has been enhanced this year with separate sessions for mathematics, science, computers, artistic expression, reading and traffic awareness. For the first time in ADIBF's history, there will be a corner for child education counselling and a focus on children with special needs within all activities and events.
"The most popular activities at the fair are those related to children," revealed al Qubaisi.
Despite the fact that the fair this year coincides with the school holidays, ADIBF is still working on having a school children's day, as it is a tradition with the fair.
The Show Kitchen is back, featuring cooking shows with seven chefs, including the Emirati Ali Salem Al Badwa and Khulood Atiq.
As in the past few years, a major topic with ADIBF is the Focus of Rights. Apart from the Focus on Rights, now in its fourth year, which is a 10,000 subsidy scheme that supports the translation of books into and out of Arabic, an Arab Rights Showcase has also been added, where the best Arabic titles for which foreign rights are available are being promoted.
"UAE is the first country in the Arab region to enforce copyrights," stressed Al Qubaisi. "We started it 10 years ago and we'll do our best to keep piracy out of the fair this year too," he added.
From a couple of hundred Arab publishers removed from the fair three years ago because of pirated books, only seven were denied entry to ADIBF last year.