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Arab world's modern-day cultural pioneers, intellectuals to convene at SIBF 2020
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 21 - 10 - 2020

The 39th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) 2020 organized by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), under the theme ‘The World Reads form Sharjah', is bringing together renowned Arab authors and intellectuals, who will be joining the fair virtually to lead a series of exciting literary and cultural discussions through the 11-day event, from Nov. 4–14, 2020.
The entirety of this edition's cultural program comprising 64 events and activities will be accessible to audiences from anywhere in the world on the ‘Sharjah Reads' virtual platform, launched by SBA to ensure active public participation in cultural events, while promoting local and global efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease.
Among the regional literary luminaries who will be speaking at SIBF 2020 are Algerian novelist Wasini Al-A'raj, whose award-winning repertoire of Arabic and French language novels including the popular, Kitab Al-Amir; and celebrated Egyptian screenwriter and novelist, Ahmed Murad, whose debut novel Vertigo (2007) has been translated in many foreign languages, and The Blue Elephant (2014) was shortlisted for the Arabic Booker award in 2014.
One of the best short story writers in the region, Mansoura Ez Eldin, will also be joining from Egypt. Mansoura's claim to literary fame spans several award-winning works like Shaken Light, Maryam's Maze, Shadow Specters, and Beyond Paradise, which was in the 2010 shortlist of Arabic Booker award. Her recent short story collection A Haven for Absence was shortlisted by the 2018 Al Multaqa Prize for the Arabic Short Story.
The line-up continues with two big names from Kuwait, writer Mishel Hamad and novelist, Ahmad Al-Rifai. Hamad, who developed a passion for the written word since he was 14, runs two prestigious publications Baqaya Madina and Larubama Khaira. Al-Rifai has written four novels as well as television and radio scripts.
Prolific Bahraini novelist, columnist and cultural influencer, Dalal Abdullah Yusuf, author of three novels, Dalal Al Masaher, Qafas Mariam and Taranim Dalal, joins the SIBF 2020 cultural program along with her peer, Layla Mutawa. Novelist, journalist and screenwriter, Layla Mutawa, is known for using her writing to advocate for women's rights. Her works have been translated to several languages. In 2012, she released her novel My Heart is not for Sale.
Iraqi writer, poet, academic and translator, Muhsin Al-Ramli, will be joining this stellar group representing the Arab world. Writing in both Arabic and Spanish languages, he has published over 20 works, ranging from short stories to plays, translations and novels. The English translation of his novel Scattered Crumbs won the University of Arkansas Press' American Translation Award in 2002.
Audiences will also be hearing from Dr. Sa'eed Alsiyabi from Oman, who is the Deputy Chairman of the Cultural Club in Oman, and has been heading the Omani Theater Association since 2011; as well as Lebanese theatre director, writer, producer, and educator, Lina Khoury. Khoury pursues her passion in theatre, TV, cinema and media production from two bases in the US and Lebanon.
SIBF 2020 cultural programme will also be featuring prominent Emirati figures, including, novelist, poet, and critic Sultan Alameemi, who writes Nabati as well as classic Arabic poetry, and has published two novels, P.O 1003 and One Room Is Not Enough; novelist and storyteller Fatima Sultan Al Mazrouei, winner of Sultan Al Owais Cultural Award for her novel Kam'en Al Attma (Darkness Traps, 2013); Fathia Al Nimr, member of the Emirati Writers Union, author of The Moon Has another Side; novelist Nadia Al Najjar, winner of the SIBF Award for her novel Trio D, and the 26th edition of Sultan Al Owais Cultural Award for her story Aswat Al'alam (Voices of the World).
Homegrown novelist and storyteller, Iman Al Yousef, whose work Guard of the Sun won first place in the 2016 Emirates Novel Award; and Emirati academic and writer Dr. Rehab Alkilani, who explores cultural issues, literature and art through novels, stories and cinema, and also writes for children, will be joining the line-up. — SG

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