American entertainer and Sharjah International Book Fair, SIBF’s Principal Guest of Honour, Steve Harvey recounted the dialogue he had with H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
"His Highness told me yesterday, and I’m repeating directly exactly what he said he told me that Islam believes in all faiths.. that it is a religion of peace, that it believes in Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, and Jesus Christ, in all faiths. This is what being a Muslim is. This is what he told me. "You see, he made me comfortable with who I am."
Harvey was addressing an audience packed into the fair’s 2000-capacity ballroom with hundreds more waiting in line to be in the company of one of the biggest international television celebrities of our time.
"My mother was a teacher at church, taught Sunday sermon, I was raised as such. However, when I visited different places, I had to respect people for what they are, because I was not right, and the other person also was not," said Harvey.
Speaking on his first visit to Sharjah, he said: "The emirate of Sharjah cannot be compared to any other city in the world", he added that he was welcomed and celebrated their guests like no other host."
Harvey praised the efforts of Sharjah Ruler for his unwavering commitment to Sharjah citizens and residents, and his keenness to make sure they live in a safe and nurturing environment. He noted, "such care is exceptional".
America’s most-loved host spoke about his style in stand-up, and about the importance of family, marriage being a hard decision, in addition to talking about how he puts women on a pedestal.
He said that he is working on a book about empowering women.
He shared with the audience tips on love, education and work. About work, he said: "I cannot stand working in a job that I do not like and wake up early to do it."
Talking about having dreams, he said: "This is life and that’s how it’s going to be all the time. So, the dream that you have has to be bigger than all your problems. My dream was so big, it took over my problems. When people said, ‘we do not hire Black people’, my dream got bigger. My faith in God is undaunted. If you have God, you have everything. Life is 10 percent of what happens to you, it is 90 percent of what you do about it".
Having been a boxer, an autoworker, an insurance salesman, a carpet cleaner, and a mailman till he became a successful showman, Harvey was asked about his endless tenacity. His response was automated, "My father was my inspiration. He was a mine worker who earned US$ 5 a day – he cared for my mother and his children. He taught me to work tirelessly. I feel people can outsmart me, they can outdo or outlive me, but they can’t work harder than I can."
Harvey was joined with a 13-year-old Emirati girl, Latifa Al Ameri. Latifa’s interaction with Harvey was spontaneous and entertaining, and saw the two switch roles – with Latifa becoming 'big Harvey' and Steve playing 'little Latifa'.
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