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Sultan Al Qasimi and Khalid Al Faisal inaugurate 34th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair

posted on 05/11/2015: 1631 views

Arab intellectuals should play an important role in raising awareness and spreading knowledge and culture and not be silent during the critical times that Arab world is going through, H.H. Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member Ruler of Sharjah said while opening the 34th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) yesterday.

Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, and Shaikh Abdullah bin Salem Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah were present.

The Ruler of Sharjah noted that Sharjah has been playing a role in supporting Arab culture and intellectuals through the difficult times that the Arab world is going through by organising events such as the recently held 3rd Arab Publishers' Conference.

He praised the efforts of his daughter Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of the Emirates Publishers Association and her role in supporting and developing Arab publishers to allow their publications to gain global reach and in doing so encouraging them to become part of the International Publishers' Association.

Speaking about the importance of books in raising awareness and the importance of facilitating access to books, he said that the Sharjah Book City was established as a free zone in which all books are brought in and are not released before all mistakes are rectified. He added that the Sharjah Book Fair allows all books to be sold except those that attack people or religious values.

During his speech, he invited Arab intellectuals to hold a conference titled "The Arab Democratic Cultural Conference" which would combine all schools of thought in the Arab world and which would result in an agreement that would be signed by all attendees.

Sheikh Sultan gave a generous donation of Dh2.5 million to purchase books from the publishing houses participating in the 34th Sharjah International Book Fair as a contribution towards the support of book publishing and investment in human intellectual development.

The SIBF 2015 is being held from November 4-14 with the participation of 1,546 publishing houses from 64 countries from all over the world.

The opening ceremony began with a documentary chronicling the most prominent achievements and cultural initiatives launched by the Emirate of Sharjah, including the Sharjah International Book Fair, followed by a speech delivered by Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA).

In his speech, Al Ameri said the SIBF reflects the vision of an Arab Ruler who believes in the power of culture and books as the key and lighthouse for progress and future as well as for dialogue, peace and people coexistence.

"As we are here at a book event, let me tell you a story about a city whose cultural identity started to emerge with the growing of a little boy, who was driven by his passion for knowledge and exploration. This boy was drawn to the magic of the written word. He read the first book that he came across in his father's library. Then, his father walked up to him and asked him what he was doing. The boy sat on the floor next to his father and gleefully told him what he was reading. That moment, the boy realised that reading is the only way to nurture one's mind that takes him to a higher intellectual plain. With God's destiny, this boy made a place in the hearts of his people. He wanted his people to be blessed with what he is inspired by and blessed with. He came up with firm belief that the book is the key to people's and nation's progress. The city which I told about is Sharjah where you are now, and the boy is H.H. Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah."

Concluding, Ahmed Al Ameri said, "The Sharjah International Book Fair was first launched in 1982 in line with the directives of the Ruler of Sharjah. The fair, which continues its annual editions, still achieves success after success, and today, we are here to witness the launch of the 34th edition. I would like to take this great occasion to say thank you Your Highness . We pray to Allah Almighty that we will always be supporters to you in this journey into the world of book, culture, literary and art, as well as in your march to advance the humankind in a world that resists under the pressure of ignorance and absence of mind."

During the ceremony, the Sharjah Book Authority launched the Sharjah Translation Award that will be given to translations carried out from Arabic into other languages. The Dh2 million award will be organised in collaboration with Air Arabia.

Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Adviser to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and Governor of Makkah Province, delivered a speech in his capacity as this year's Cultural Personality for the 34th edition of SIBF. Prince Al Faisal deserved the award for his cultural, charitable and humanitarian contributions, as well as his constant pursuit in consolidating the values of tolerance and moderation by encouraging intercultural dialogue and interaction.

In his speech Prince Khalid thanked Sheikh Sultan for the award and thanked the organisers of the fair. He said, "There is no civilisation or development without culture, thought and education. It is through knowledge that nations advance and countries are pushed towards the top."

He called on the Arab leaders to quell conflicts through knowledge in order to give Arabs the chance to revive once again.

Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi then honoured the winners of the SIBF 2015 awards, flanked by Ahmed bin Rakkadh Al Ameri. The winners included Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Adviser to Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Governor of Makkah Province, who has been bestowed with the Cultural Personality of the Year Award.

Palestine –based Dar Al Jundi for Publishing and Distribution won the Best Arab Publisher Award, while the Best International Publisher Award went to India's National Book Trust.

The Best Emirati Book by an Emirati Creative Writer was given to Emirati writer Hareb Al Dhaheri for his novel" Ascension to Heaven" released by the Emirati Writers Union.

The Best Emirati Academic Book Award was given to Dr Ibrahim Abdullah Ghuloom for his book "The Theatre of the Original Issue-Intellectual Structure in the Theatre of Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, which was published by Lebanon –based Al Intishar Al Arabi Foundation.

The Best Emirati Translated Book Award was given to the book "Art in the UAE", prepared and written by the Abu Dhabi Culture and Art Group, and published by Motivate Publishing in Dubai. The Best Emirati Printed Book about the UAE went to author Ali Abu Al Rish for his book "Western-Bird with Eight Wings", published by Hamalil Publishing House in Abu Dhabi.

The Sharjah Award for the Best Arabic Novel went to Zeyad Ahmed Mahafza for his novel "Prisoners of Darkness", published by Dar Fadaat Publishing House in Jordan.

The Best international Fiction Book Award went to Thuraya Khan for her novel "City of Skies", published by Aleph Book Publishing.

The Best International Non-Fiction Book Award received by Author Guillen Greenwald for his book "No Place To Hide", published by Macmillan Publishers.

Following the honouring ceremony, Sheikh Sultan honoured and presented a memento to the sponsors of the SIBF 2015, including the Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC), the media sponsor, where Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, SMC Chairman, received the honour.

Other honoured organisations included Etisalat, the official sponsor of SIBF, and Saleh Al Abdouli, CEO of Etisalat, received the honour on behalf of the national telecom provider. Majid Abdul Rahman Al Bastaki, Media Director of the Office of Dubai's Crown Prince, received the honour on behalf the Hamdan bin Mohammed Initiative for National Knowledge, the platinum sponsor.

Nasser Al Sarami, Head of Media at Al Arabiya News Channel, the strategic media partner, received the honour on behalf of Al Arabia. Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, received the honour on behalf of the Sharjah Expo Centre, while Adel Ali, CEO of Air Arabia Group received the honour on behalf of the emirate's national air carrier.

Khalid Abdullah Taryam, Board Chairman of Dar Al Khaleej Printing and Publishing, the press sponsor, received the honour on behalf of Al Khaleej.

Sheikh Sultan then honoured the winners of the 7th editions of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature, accompanied by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Royal Patron of the UAE Board on Book for Young (UAEBBY), the organiser of Etisalat Award, as well as Saleh Al Abdouli and Abdul Aziz Taryam.

The winning titles include "The Judge's Mule", written by Shafeek Mehdi, illustrated by Taiba Abdullah, and published by Iraqi-based Al Buragh Publisher, which won the title of the Children's Book of the Year (Age group 0-12). The book also won the Best Production Award.

The Young Adult Book Award (Age group 13-18 years) went to the book "Getting out of the Bubble", written by Ibrahim Shalabi and published by Egyptian Al Balsam won.

The Best Text Award was given to the book "Me and My Granny" published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, written and illustrated by Ebtihaj Al Harthi.

The Best Illustration Award went to title "Nour Runs Away from the Story", written by Abeer Ali Al Kalbani, illustrated by Gulnar Hajo, and published by Syria-based Bright Fingers.

Following a breakfast banquet held on the honour of Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, he launched his new book "Chronicles of a City" that narrates the story of the city of Sharjah during the British occupation of the region and the subsequent political turmoil.

The Ruler of Sharjah gave the first copy of his book to His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Adviser to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques following which Sheikh Sultan toured the fair with the attending dignitaries.

With a record breaking year for the 34th edition, SIBF is witnessing the participation of 1556 publishing houses from 64 countries, including nine countries taking part for the first time, namely Poland, Peru and Ghana, Albania, Argentina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Magnolia, and Serbia. The fair is also breaking the record for the number of books displayed with 1.5 million titles that are available in 210 languages.

The 2015 SIBF also features more than 900 events, including the Intellectual Programme, Cultural Cafe, the Kids Programme, the Social Networking Platform and the Cookery Corner.

The Intellectual Programme features seminars, lectures and evenings attended by an elite group of authors, literary men and intellectuals from all around the world who will enrich SIBF's visitors with discussions covering literary and cultural topics throughout the 11-day event.

The Cultural Cafe will have three daily evenings taking place at 6,7 and 8pm, spanning book reviews and discussions involving literary, historical, religious and media topics, as well as translation, children's literature, Arabic language, social awareness and self-development.

SIBF is organising a special programme for children featuring a wide array of theatrical shows and performances, as well as educational and awareness activities and interactive scientific workshops, specifically designed for children of various age groups, to help develop their cognitive abilities, foster their talents and enrich their knowledge with science, literary and art.

For the first time at SIBF, a comic stand has been set up in collaboration with ComicCave, the largest distributor of comic products in the UAE.

The comic stand, extending over an area of 150 square metres, is held with the participation with 26 specialised publishers. The stand will feature models, magazines, games and gifts bearing the pictures of favourite characters, such as Batman, Superman, the Avengers, Halo Kitty, Tan Tan, and Japanese Manga, among many others. Other events, including workshops and a variety of shows for both children and adults will also take place at the Comics Stand.

The popular Cookery Corner is set to return with a group of internationally renowned chefs and winners of prestigious awards whose cookbooks are available at the fair. A wealth of cookery classes, live cooking demonstrations and shows will be available to everyone as part of the culinary programme.

The Social Networking Platform is back again this year with social media influences talking about their experiences. For the first time, visitors will also get a chance to take a "Selfie" through an interactive screen that contains covers of international magazines, in addition to an open video game tournament, that all aim to attract more visitors to the fair, especially children and youth.

The book fair will see the second edition of the joint conference between SIBF and the American Library Association (ALA), with the participation of more than 330 participants from 18 countries. The event features the first time special stands that allow librarians and library staff to explore new products and services related to their work. The conference, which offers an opportunity to enhance the library work in the UAE and the Arab world, will also include training workshops dealing with new and advanced topics, designated for professionals in public, academic and government libraries.

Hundreds of cultural and media figures alongside actors, exhibitors, chefs and social media activists are participating in events planned for this year's fair. Participants from the UAE include writer and poet Habib Al Sayegh, Editor-in-Chief of Al Khaleej newspaper and Chairman of the Emirates Writers Union, Mohammed Al Otaiba, Editor-in-Chief of "The National" newspaper, writer and novelist Abdullah Al Nuaimi, TV host Sara Al Marzouqi, Chef Khulood Atiq, Poet Sheikha Al Muhairai and writer Fathia Al Nimr.

Among the most prominent Arab figures participating are Egyptian politician Dr. Mustafa Al Fiqi, Tunisian writer and academician Dr. Shukri Al Mabkhout, Egyptian TV host Ahmed Al Muslimani, Saudi intellectual and critic Dr Saad Al Bazie, Jordanian Poet Jeryes Samawi, Syrian Novelist Lina Al Hassan, Moroccan writer and critic Dr. Mohamed Berrada, Omani poet Saif Al Rahbi, Sudanese Novelist Hamour Ziyada, , Kuwaiti poet and writer Saadia Mufarreh, Palestinian Novelist and Poet Suzann Abu Al Hawa, Qatari writer and actor Wedad Al Kuwari, Egyptian poet Farouk Shousha, Jordanian comedian Rajae Qawas, and Egyptian chef Hassan Kamal.

The list of foreign guests includes famous British writer and TV presenter John McCarthy, Nigerian writer and poet Ben Okri, Indian actor Mohanlal, Pakistani writer and novelist Moni Hassan, Indian percussionist Mattanur Sankarankutty, Philippine Illustrator and graphic designer Kerby Rosanes, Pakistani writer and poet Fatima Bhutto, Japanese Novelist and translator Shojo Okitani, South African writer and filmmaker Allen Proctor, Pakistani writer Tanzila Khan, Darin Shan, the author of the best seller books in Ireland, and British Muslim Singer Yusuf Sami.

The 34th edition of SIBF is held with the sponsorship of Etisalat (Official Sponsor), the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Initiative for National Knowledge (Platinum Sponsor), Sharjah Media Corporation (Media Sponsor), and Al Arabiya Channel (Media Partner), as well as strategic partners, namely Air Arabia and the Sharjah Expo Centre, and Dar Al Khaleej Printing and Publishing (Press Sponsor). . – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


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