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03 December 2023

Sultan Al Qasimi inaugurates 38th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair

Photo: WAM


H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah,, inaugurated the 38th Sharjah International Book Fair, SIBF, on Wednesday reiterating that culture requires patience to develop and have a lasting impact on society.

"Forty years ago, Sharjah was not what you see today. No one foresaw the tremendous cultural achievements, which Sharjah has attained. We began with a clear vision of where we were headed, and had the determination to get there. Culture is cultivated through patience as I have learnt personally.

"For us, being on a vibrant and inclusive cultural path was the surest guarantee of creating stable, learned and advanced communities, of building a sustainable economy on the foundation of knowledge, science and innovation. Such lofty aspirations can never be fulfilled without the power of books and learning."

The Sharjah Ruler explained that winning a prestigious cultural title like World Book Capital, whose extensive selection criteria is defined by UNESCO and top international entities, requires years’ worth of extensive efforts and strategic planning.

"Sharjah met these requirements to hold the title this year. Our planning and efforts are reflected in every home library we set up, in our ambitious, culture-loving children and youth, in the ethics and values of entities that lead Sharjah in all sectors, and in the huge public attendance of events planned for our yearlong World Book Capital celebrations," His Highness added.

The Sharjah Ruler concluded his remarks affirming that the status of countries that have culture and knowledge "will not be touched". "Culture leads us into the future; protects us from ignorance. Our cultural project ensures everyone a sense of belongingness and the right to a decent life. This was recently reaffirmed by Sharjah winning the Child-Friendly Cities Initiative Aspire Award. If you want to know about the culture of a city or nation, ask about the status its children and the elderly enjoy."

Welcoming guests, visitors and publishers from around the world, Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman, Sharjah Book Authority, said: "In the Emirate of Sharjah, we put knowledge, books, literature at the forefront of architecture and industry, and by doing so, we succeeded in all fields. All our projects are based on knowledge and the awareness of society’s needs, a mission we have internalised under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, who has shown us the value of relationships based on mutual respect".

Highlighting the importance of SIBF as platform for the convergence of ideas, languages, stories, experiences and cultures from around the world, Al Ameri said: "I stand here today, amid 2,000 publishers from 81 countries, 173 authors, 90 cultural personalities and a packed 11-day agenda of 900-plus activities, which have brought arts and culture from across the globe under one roof.

"This is what Sharjah is offering. This is what we are safeguarding for our future and yours; for your children and for humanity."

Honouring Cultural Personality of the Year His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi honoured Lebanese author and critic Dr Yumna Al Eid, also known as Hikmat Sabbagh, as the ‘Cultural Personality of the Year’, in recognition of the significant role she has played to promote the Arab literary scene through her contributions as an award-winning author and critic, for over four decades.

Thanking the Sharjah ruler and SIBF for the recognition, Al Eid said: "I am delighted to be here with you at this cultural celebration in the Emirate of Sharjah. I have fond memories of Sharjah, which has been celebrating culture, books and authors without any discrimination by gender or nationality. I perceive this occasion as an honouring of women’s achievements, in particular, who have done so much to nurture Arab culture. Women writers liberate the collective consciousness from the practices and conceptions defined by a patriarchal culture. The fact that more women in our region are picking up a pen to write award-winning titles is a matter of pride".

She added: "I emphasise the importance of printed books, which we are celebrating here, and encourage book fairs and Arabic publishing houses to together promote the sustainability of Arabic language books as they are central nurturing our future generations.

Republic of Mexico – Guest of Honour The 11-day fair taking place at Sharjah Expo Centre, until November 9 (Saturday), celebrates the Republic of Mexico as guest of honour country.

Thanking Sharjah for shining a spotlight on Mexican culture, literature, art and cuisine at one of the world’s largest book fair, SIBF, Juan Arzoz Arbide, President of the publishing industry of Mexico said: "We are delighted to have received this tremendous honour. We believe that books can change minds; they are a key source of knowledge. Books build strong cultural relations and promote social integration and development. This international fair, which hosts my country Mexico as guest of honour, has allowed our authors and intellects to deliver on this mission. We look forward to receiving you all at the Mexico Pavilion at SIBF."

Winners of SIBF Awards The Ruler of Sharjah also honoured the winners of SIBF Awards that recognise recent accomplishments in the regional and international publishing industry.

Abdullah Al Nuaimi was awarded Best Emirati Book (Novel) for Zubaida’s Apartment, while Palestinian Abdullah Saleem Amarah, Latifa Ali Obaid and Afraa Rachid Al Basti from the UAE won the Best Emirati Book in the field of Studies for A Brief of UAE’s cultural and Political History (From Stone Age to 1971).

Other winners included Emirati author Saleh Karama Al Ameri who secured the Best Emirati Book on Theater Scripts for Take the Earth, and Syrian author Ezzat Omar who won the Best Emirati Book on the UAE, for ‘The Impact of Modernism and Post-Modernism on Emirati Narratives’. Saudi Author Maqboul Moussa Al Alawi was awarded the Best Arabic Novel Award for Al Hallaj Spirit. Amey S. Edmondson scooped the Best International Book Award for the non-fiction category for her Fearless Organising book, while the fiction category was won by Nigerian author Chilochi Onimelokoy Onobia for the work Son of House.

The Best Local Publisher Award went to Al Hudhud Publishing and Distribution, while the Best Arab Publisher Award was won by Dar Elmaref form Egypt. The Best International Publisher went to Adveza Graz from Austria.

Winners of Sharjah Translation Award ‘Turjuman’ Sheikh Sultan presented the third edition of the translation prize, the AED 1.3 million Turjuman Award, to Italian publisher ‘Edizioni E/O’ for the novel A Small Death (Mawt Sagheer) by Saudi author Mohammed Hasan Alwan, which was translated to Italian , and Lebanese publisher Dar al Saqi, who owns the first edition publishing rights for the Arabic edition of the novel, won the Arabic Publishing House award.

Winners of 11th Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature honoured During the opening ceremony, His Highness also honoured the winners for the 11th edition of Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, which is organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and sponsored by Etisalat Group.

‘Children’s Book of the Year’ went for A story on S & L, written by Anas Abu Rahma illustrated by Lubna Taha and published by Al Dar Al Ahlia, Jordan.

The book titled Whose Doll is This? won the ‘Young Adult Book of the Year’, written by Taghreed Al Najjar and published by Dar Al Salwa, Jordan; while the ‘Best Text’ Award went to Damascus: A story of a city’ written and illustrated by Alaa Murtada and published by Al-Balsam Publishing House, Egypt.

The ‘Best Production’ category was won by Abu Karkouba, written by Nabiha Muhaidli, illustrated by Walid Taher and published by Dar Al Hadaeq, Lebanon. The ‘Best Illustration’ award was won by I Fly, written by Dr. Amani Saad Al-Najim, illustrated by Ali Khalid Al-Zaini and published by ABC Publishers, Jordan.

Finally, the newly added the ‘Silent Book’ category was won by The Secret of the Well, illustrated by Masouma Haji Wand, ideated by Ali Al Qasem, and published by Dar Al Buraqh publishing house, Iraq.

SIBF enjoys a range of sponsorships and strategic partnerships, including Etisalat (official sponsor), Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (Official Media Partner), Al Arabiya Channel (Media Sponsor), Expo Centre Sharjah (Strategic Partner), Dar Al Khaleej (Press Partner), and OSN (TV Partner).