Books are known to be the bridge between the past and the present, and play an important role in contributing to one’s knowledge. From fiction to non-fiction and biographies to self-published ones, the range is aplenty. To celebrate the importance of literature and reading, every year April 23 is celebrated as World Book and Copyright Day.

According to the United Nations, owing to the death anniversary of Shakespeare, Cervantes Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and the birth anniversary of greats like Haldor K Laxness, Maurice Druon, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo, the day became a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference in 1955. As per UNESCO, the idea is to encourage everyone to pick up books, especially the younger lot. The day assumes more significance in present times considering that reading books has taken a backseat for many owing to information overload from other sources including digital.

The theme for this year, which is the 24th edition, is centred around celebrating literature and reading with a particular focus on enhancing and protecting indigenous languages. ‘As a vector of knowledge, books bring people together around a story and a common heritage while revealing their specificities through different cultures, identities and languages. The focus on this topic is fully in line with the celebration of the International Year of the Indigenous Languages’, mentions United Nations.

Sharjah is the World Book Capital for 2019.

The UAE city of Sharjah took up the mantle as UNESCO's World Book Capital for 2019, launching a series of cultural programs aimed at both locals and expatriates and international organisations representing publishers, libraries and booksellers, Sharjah has been appreciated for its ‘very innovative, comprehensive and inclusive approach with a community-focused activity programme containing creative proposals to engage the very large migrant population’.

"Sharjah aims to become a true torch for science and knowledge," said Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qasimi, ruler of the city and its eponymous emirate, at a ceremony joining more than 500 artists.

Sharjah was named this year's World Book Capital by the UN's cultural agency under the recommendation of The International Publishers Associations (IPA) and The International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA).

"Sharjah has been selected by these esteemed pillars as recognition of the city's continuous efforts in promoting books and literacy," said a joint statement released by the three organisations. "Known as the City of Books, it has fast established itself as the source for the region's growing publishing sector, and has become the hub for most book related events and organisations in the UAE." The annual program kicked off, which marked World Book Day, with a evening celebration that included dance and song.

With the slogan “Read – you are in Sharjah”, the programme focuses on six themes namely, inclusivity, reading, heritage, outreach, publishing and children.

The city, whose objective is to foster a culture of reading in the United Arab Emirates, is looking to make full use of the tag with a conference on freedom of speech, a contest for young poets, workshops for creating Braille books and tactile books as well as many events for Sharjah’s multi-ethnic population.

A string of conferences, exhibits and book fairs are set to take place throughout the year. The city of Sharjah is the capital of an emirate by the same name, one of seven that make up the United Arab Emirates. The neighbouring emirate of Dubai is the cultural centre of the UAE, with year-round museum exhibits and regular book fairs.​