Given Sharjah is also the UNESCO World Book Capital this year it perhaps won’t come as a complete surprise that there were a lot of people at the UAE’s biggest literary event. But in fact the fair this year attracted fully 200,000 more visitors than on any previous occasion, clocking 2.52 million visitors in total – equivalent to a quarter of the UAE’s population.

Meanwhile the Algiers International Book Fair, which ran the exact same dates 5,000 km away on other side of MENA in Algeria, disappointed with “only” 1.1 million turning out.

In dedicated posts I’ll take a closer look at both events. Here just to note that, with 3.6 million visitors between them, these two fairs alone decimate the faux narrative that Arabs don’t read.

And the Sharjah event is only the second largest literary event in the Arab world.