If we needed proof that the coronavirus crisis will not fade simply because of summer’s warmer weather we need look no further than the Middle East, where despite the high temperatures the virus has taken its deadly toll.

One of the first publishing industry casualties in the Middle East was the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, where it had been planned to announce and present prizes to the winners of the prestigious Sheikh Zayed Book Awards and also the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Both awards will now take place despite the fair not happening, and no in-person ceremonies. But details as yet remain sparse.

The UAE’s The National explains:

A total of 1,900 nominations from 49 countries (22 Arab and 27 foreign countries) were submitted for the 14th Sheikh Zayed Book Award across its nine categories. The two categories with the highest number of nominations were Young Author (498 nominations) followed by Literature (438 nominations).

The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair has been just one of many major MENA publishing events to be hit. Others include Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh International Book Fair, Iran’s Tehran International Book Fair and the UAE’s Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival.

But The National ends its report on a high note, observing that the Sharjah International Book Fair is still on schedule for November.

Eight months seems an eternity away right now, and fingers crossed the crisis will be over by then and the publishing calendar enjoys some semblance of normality as we head into 2021.

But right now this crisis could go either way, and the Sharjah International Book Fair, along with a host of other autumn events up to and including the Frankfurt Buchmesse, have to be considered on the at-risk list.