SHARJAH – His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, opened the 35th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).
Themed ‘Read More’ and taking place at Expo Centre Sharjah, SIBF 2016 runs from November 2-12 and is hosting 1,681 publishing houses from 60 countries. Sharjah book fair is Arab largest and world’s third largest book fair.
In his keynote address, HE Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), highlighted the importance of the fair and its influence on culture in the UAE, the Arab region and the wider world.
“There is no better word to describe Sharjah International Book Fair than ‘Passion.’ This is because His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah has inspired and guided us to love books. Today, we are celebrating the opening of SIBF’s 35th edition, putting our imprint on the history of Arab and world cultures. Through this regionally and international acclaimed fair, we are telling the story of our deeply rooted and rich civilisation,” said Al Ameri.
During his speech Al Ameri revealed the launch the visual identity of the AED 2 million Sharjah Translation Award. Titled ‘Turjuman,’ the new initiative is an international award in translation and authorship to be run by SBA.
“The launch of the Turjuman Award is in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to promote the translation of innovative global literary works that reflect unique human intellectual and cultural outputs. The award aims to promote a flourishing translation movement, moving human intellectual work freely across linguistic and cultural boundaries,” he said.
Following the official opening of SIBF 2016, His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah honoured Etisalat, the official sponsor of SIBF, with HE Saleh Al Abdooli, CEO of Etisalat, receiving the accolade.
His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi also paid tribute to Lebanese intellectual and academic Dr. Ghassan Salame, former Lebanese Minister of Culture and the SIBF 2016 Cultural Personality of the Year in recognition of his long and distinguished career and invaluable contribution to the Arab cultural scene.
His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi then used the stage to sign the Arabic copy of his book ‘Power Struggles and Trade in the Gulf (1620–1820)’. The book discusses trade in the Gulf region over a period of 200 years and chronicles the struggles between Persian powers and other key players in the region over commerce. The proceeds of the book will be allocated for the Big Heart Foundation, that has been launched by Her Highness Sheikh Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah.
Following the book signing, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi honoured the winners of the Etisalat Award for Arab Children’s Literature. ‘Excuse Me, Give Me Away’ by Nabiha Mheidli won the AED 300,000 Children’s Book of the Year, while ‘Screams Behind Doors’ by Rania Hussien Amin scooped the ‘Young Adult Book of the Year’ worth AED 200,000.
Best Text Award was given to the book ‘I Want to Be a Turtle’ by writer Amal Farah, while Boulqash, authored and illustrated by Yara Bamiya won the ‘Best Production’ award valued at AED 100,000. Best Illustration award went to ‘The Blue Lake of Questions, written by Maya Abu Al Hayyat.
Dr. Ghassan Salame, the SIBF 2016 Cultural Personality of the Year, thanked His Highness for all that he has done to establish Sharjah as a beacon of culture that works to unite the world.
“You are the one who has allowed Sharjah to become the lighthouse of culture between east and west. You have attained the highest standards of science, knowledge and culture. As a writer and scholar yourself, you understand the needs of writers and because of this, you have truly transformed Sharjah into a sustainable city of culture. You have left the region’s youth with a long-standing heritage of which they can be proud,” said Dr. Salame.
His Highness toured SIBF along with the guests attending and visited a number of participating stands.
During His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi’s visit to the stand of the Department of Statistics and Community Development (DSCD), HH received the first copy of the Sharjah Census 2015, which summarises the methodologies followed to implement the census targets, and a comprehensive presentation of its results including population distribution, household reviews, housing societies and buildings covering the different regions of the emirate. It also features more detailed classifications under the categories of areas of population concentration, nationality, gender, age groups, and literacy levels, among others.
The data resulting from this census will provide as a solid information base for launching future development projects in Sharjah, given the valuable information it offers decision makers, officials and future investors about the economic, social and cultural life in Sharjah. Clearly explaining the prospects for future activities and areas of concentration, which will further stimulate economic growth in the emirate, fulfilling its needs now and in the future.
HH Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi also visited the Kalimat Group, gaining insight into various reading initiatives launched by Kalimat. His Highness continued to walk into other exhibits including the ‘1001 Titles’ launched by Knowledge without Borders (KwB), the Consultative Council in Sharjah, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, Al Khaleej Newspaper, Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), and Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.
During these visits, His Highness signed several copies of his book, Power Struggles and Trade in the Gulf: 1620–1820 (UK: Forest Row, 1999), and was approached keenly by the numerous participating authors and publishing houses who shared with him copies of their various publications.
An array of cultural personalities and distinguished luminaries are participating in SIBF 2016, including renowned Egyptian actor Ezzat Al Alaili, Algerian poet and novelist Ahlam Mosteghanemi, Egyptian television presenter Mofeed Fawzy, Saudi poet Dr Mohammed Al Muqrin, Palestinian poet Ibrahim Nasrallah, Iraqi researcher and writer Rasheed Al Khyoun, Lebanese writer Charbel Dagher, Algerian novelist Wasini Al Araj, Emirati poet, novelist and conceptual artist Sheikha Maysoun Al Qasimi, Kuwaiti TV presenter Amal Abdullah and Moroccan poet and writer Abdennour Mezzine.
SIBF has allocated a special stand for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which was selected as this year’s SIBF Guest of Honour in recognition of its efforts in promoting education and culture in countries affected by war, conflict and natural disasters. UNESCO will present a rich programme of activities at the fair in recognition of its shared interests with Sharjah, the Capital of Arab and Islamic Culture.
On the sidelines of the fair, the third edition of the joint conference between SIBF and the American Library Association (ALA), takes place from November 8-10. The SIBF/ALA conference features an array of events, panel discussions and training workshops that deal with a range of important topics for experts and librarians from academic, public, private and school libraries, as well as bookstores. Among the topics on the conference’s agenda are the new trends in the library sector, technology and digital content, services and marketing, consolidating the library’s value and developing professional librarian cadres.
Each year, SIBF brings together hundreds of government and semi-government organisations, publishing houses, distributors, booksellers, e-publishers, rights agents, cultural institutions, public libraries, research centres, publishers’ associations, university libraries, media and producers of literary and educational aids, including maps, audio recordings and videos. More than 1.5 million titles will be on display from participating publishers.
The 11-day SIBF attracts thousands of visitors from across the world who are entertained by its extensive programme of events and activities. The fair is open daily from early morning until late evening, bringing together authors, readers, publishers and lovers of the written word.