The world’s third largest book fair gets under way today, in the sandy desert of the Middle East.
The United Arab Emirates probably isn’t on the radar of most publishers – as we all know, Arabs don’t read, and to even think about the Arab book market is waste of time. Or so conventional wisdom has it. The reality is rather different. For a rebuttal to the ludicrous Arabs don’t read assertion, see this post from The New Publishing Standard.

As Gulf News reports  the Sharjah Book Fair, which runs from November 1 through 11, will be showcasing 1.5 million books.

Very nice, you might say, but will any of them sell? I mean, who’s going to trek to the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, bordered by Saudi Arabia and Oman, with Iran just across the water, just to visit a book fair?

Well, 2.3 million – yes, million – visitors went to Sharjah last year. Compare the 13,000 visitors to the London Book Fair or the 18,000 at New York’s Book Expo.

Sharjah Book Fair 2016 . Image: Eye of Dubai.

In 2016 said visitors bought books to the value of Dh 176 million. That’s $3.8 million of books sold in just eleven days in the Arabian desert.

But Sharjah is more than just a book fair. It’s also the world’s first “publishing city”, and Porter Anderson was there for the official opening this week. Check out Anderson’s post over at Publishing Perspectives with some great photos of what will soon be a pivotal player in the global publishing industry.