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Sharjah to Showcase a Rich Cultural Programme as Sao Paulo International Book Fair’s First Guest of Honour



Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi

In observing its premier status as Sao Paulo International Book Fair’s first-ever guest of honour, at its 25th edition which runs from August 3 to 12, Sharjah will be putting its best foot forward in showcasing the gems of Emirati culture, with a special focus on their achievements in the past four decades.

Sharjah’s pavilion at the book biennial will become a vibrant platform for a series of engaging discussions and exchanges featuring local poetry, novels and other cultural assets of the emirates. A large delegation from Sharjah will be headed by Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations, and include 20 Emirati authors and publishers, and 15 cultural entities.

The Sharjah delegation to Sao Paulo will comprise leading cultural, educational and academic entities including the Sharjah Book Authority(SBA), Emirates Writers Union (EWU), Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), Sharjah Department of Culture and Information (DoCI), Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH), Dr. Sultan Al-Qasimi Centre for Gulf Studies, Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC), UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), Knowledge without Borders (KwB), 1001 Titles initiative, Al Qasimi Publications, Kalimat Group, NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, Sharjah Business Women Council and the American University of Sharjah.

Sharjah’s participation – the largest-of-its-kind by an Arab country – at one of key cultural events in South America, will provide Sao Paulo’s population of 21 million inhabitants with the opportunity to explore Emirati art shows including traditional songs and traditional dances by the Sharjah National Music Band, which will tour the city.

Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, said: “Sharjah’s cultural achievements reflect the futuristic vision and pioneering efforts of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. Having taken on the position of the UAE’s cultural capital, Sharjah considers strengthening relationships with countries worldwide and opening new avenues for dialogue and cross-cultural collaboration as one of its top responsibilities. The selection of Sharjah as Sao Paulo Book Biennial’s first guest of honour is yet another achievement for Sharjah and a new era of cooperation with Brazil and Latin America.”

For his part, HE Ahmed Al Ameri, said: “Through its cultural programme in Sao Paulo, Sharjah aims to introduce the finer details of the UAE’s cultural and social fabric, and the Arab and Islamic culture to a completely different community. Sharjah Book Authority has carefully crafted a cultural programme, which will sufficiently represent our authentic heritage through a diversity of events including oriental music, poetry, novel and crafts.”

“Thanks to the vision and directives of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, the emirate is providing Portuguese speaking people and other cultures in South America with the opportunity to explore the UAE local culture and heritage, and the corresponding Arab and Islamic culture. It has a firm belief that knowledge, books and creativity are the common ground which brings together people from around the world, furthers peace and love and enhances dialogue and cross-cultural communication between the world’s nations.”

HE Mohammed Hassan Khalaf, Director-General of the Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC), said: “Sharjah’s selection as Guest of Honour at the Sao Paulo International Book Fair communicates an important message to the world, highlighting Sharjah as a cultural hub of the region. The selection exemplifies the vision of His Highness The Ruler of Sharjah who has been relentless in his promotion of the role of knowledge and books as an open platform to enhance cross-cultural dialogue and communication between civilisations.”

“SMC will celebrate this selection through an integrated programme broadcast on its TV and radio channels, covering all activities organised by the Sharjah delegation in Sao Paulo. This event will be an ideal opportunity to unveil Sharjah’s unparalleled efforts in promoting Emirati, Arab and Islamic culture all around the world,” he added.

HE Abdullah Al Owais, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Information (DoCI), said: “The DoCI is honoured and delighted to be part of the Sharjah delegation to Sao Paulo. Our participation is guided by the vision of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who has set a unique precedent, not just in the UAE but the region, of how to create an Arab cultural presence around the world in the most meticulous and creative ways.”

For his part, HE Dr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Chairman of Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH), observed: “Our participation aims to further our ruler’s leading cultural vision, which seeks to reinforce intercultural dialogue around the world and promote our honourable history and authentic heritage to Latin audiences.”

On the importance of representing Sharjah and UAE in Brazil, Habib Al Sayegh, Secretary General of Arab Writers Union (AWU) and Chairman of the Emirates Writers Union (EWU), said: “Sharjah’s participation at the Sao Paulo International Book Fair as its guest of honour highlights the emirate’s global cultural presence that has been established under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. After a successful participation in France through a prominent presence at the Paris Book Fair, Sharjah will once again hold the UAE’s flag high in Brazil.”

“At all meetings and events, His Highness The Ruler of Sharjah stimulates us – at EWU – to enhance cross-cultural communication with nations and peoples, exchange knowledge, and further develop the writing, translation and publishing spheres. The EWU’s delegation will contribute effectively to Sharjah’s overall cultural presentation.

HE Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, said: “Our participation at the Sao Paulo International Book Fair aligns with our dedication to showcase the experience of Sharjah and NAMA in terms of women’s advocacy and empowerment at the economic, professional and social levels, as well as highlighting NAMA’s achievements and success in stimulating many women to play an active and influential role in their communities, and contribute to the development and prosperity of their country.”

“Through a series of events, workshops and live activations, we will enable visitors to explore the work and talents of several artisans and craftswomen representing Irthi’s Bidwa Social Development Programme, including the traditional Emirati crafts of ‘Talli’, ‘Safeefa’ and ‘Sadu’, which have been featured by several global luxury fashion brands,” she added.


Sharjah’s Cultural Programme
The first day of the event will see a poetry reading themed ‘Poetry Spectra’, comprising poet Dr. Habib Al-Sayegh, and poet Talal Salem, and is moderated by poet and journalist Sheikha Al-Mutairi. In the same day, and all throughout the fair, Oud player Tarish Saeed Al Hashimi, will play a selection of music themed ‘Music of the Soul’.

The first day of the event also includes a seminar themed ‘The Year of Zayed’, moderated by writer and journalist Khalid bin Qiqa. Researchers, Dr Hamad bin Sarai, Professor of Old History at the United Arab Emirates University, and Saeed Hamdan, Director of Program Management in the National Library Sector, the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi, will highlight the efforts of the late founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, who laid the foundations of unity and glory and helped cement the UAE’s leading position among the world’s modern countries.

On the second day of the fair, the Sharjah Pavilion will host a poetry reading themed ‘The Glow of Poems’, comprising two Emirati poets Salha Ghabish and Sheikha Al-Mutairi, and moderated by Talal Salem. Rashid Al Kous, Mohamed Bin Dakheen, and Dr. Alyazia Khalifa will participate in a seminar titled ‘The Success of The UAE Publishing Market Around the World’ to discuss the possibility of developing common publishing ethics between world countries and the publishing standards in UAE and Brazil.

During a seminar moderated by Asma Al-Zarouni under the title ‘Modern Novel Landscape’, Nasser Al Dhaheri, an Emirati writer and journalist and Sultan Al Amimi, a poet and novelist will discuss the artistic and narrative potentials that enabled contemporary novels to attain a leading position in the literary landscape and managed to outrank other literary genres in the Arab World and at global level, as well as their role in the cross-border transfer of cultural experiences and bringing different peoples and civilizations closer together.

On the third day, the Sharjah Pavilion will host four cultural, musical, research and literary activities including ‘Music of the Soul’. Iman Bin Chaibah, Tamer Saeed and Dr. Alyazia Khalifa will highlight the importance of adhering to the original text and idea during translation, the methods of preserving paper publications, the impact of translation on the original idea, in addition to tackling other topics including ‘Printing on Demand’.

Dr. Habib Ghalloum, an actor and writer, and Khaled bin Qiqa, a writer and journalist, are participating in a literary seminar titled ‘The Benefits of Writing’ which is moderated by Asmaa Al-Zarouni. They will raise questions on the need for writing and its benefit for the authors themselves and the community.  A discussion panel themed ‘1001 Titles’ will explore common points between fiction stories in both Emirati and Brazilian literature. During the session, Majd Al-Shehhi, Shamma Al Dabal and Brazilian Writer, will discuss the impact of the cultural and social environment on narrative fiction, as well as compare the Brazilian and Emirati fiction book markets.

The Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council will organise a mask-making workshop for children. The workshop will incorporate both Emirati and Brazilian cultures through the use of masks and the traditional burqa. Children will be able to decorate those masks once women artisans from the United Arab Emirates finish making them.

Marwa Al-Aqroubi, President of the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), and Elyazia Al Suwaidi will be participating in a session themed ‘Illustrations that Break Language Barriers’, and moderated by Karen Pansa, to discuss human creativity and ‘Imagine Books’ and its ability to break language barriers and help refugee children enhance their relationship with books irrespective of the language of their new country of residence.

On the fourth day, Sharjah will highlight the UAE heritage and the emirate’s initiatives to encourage youngsters to explore world of books and increase awareness about the importance of reading as a lifestyle choice. In a seminar entitled ‘Mirrors of Time’ comprising Asma Al Zarouni and Hareb Al Dhaheri, and moderated by poet Sheikha Al-Mutairi,  the two authors will shed light on the inclusion of the UAE heritage in the local literary works, and its relation with the human heritage in general.

Another session titled ‘Features of Joint Publishing’, Sharjah is addressing the cultural exchange between the UAE and Brazil and the impact of cultural diversity in the UAE on the published works. Tamer Saeed, Iman Bin Chaibah and Luis Alvaro Salis, Director of International Affairs at the Brazilian Chamber of Book, will discuss the changes in the local publishing market over the past few decades.

Knowledge without Borders, a Sharjah-based cultural initiative, will promote its vision, efforts and achievements since its inception. Noura Bin Hadyia and Jamelah Haikal, will demonstrate how the initiative has succeeded in distributing more than 42,000 home libraries to UAE families in Sharjah. They will also invite cultural institutions wishing to provide an international platform for cultural dialogue.

On day five, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council organises a workshop on making baskets using ‘Safeefa’, a traditional Emirati art of palm fronds weaving and decoration. The workshop will be conducted by UAE craftswomen while children will be able to decorate the handcrafted pieces.