Sharjah and Paris to promote intercultural dialogue through book fairs

Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) has concluded its participation at the Paris International Book Fair. Held annually, the four-day event that takes place in one of the world’s most culturally and intellectually rich countries is one of the most important book fairs in Europe.

The visit of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to the SBA stand at the fair was the highlight of the organisation’s participation.

His Highness was received at the SBA stand by a number of local and foreign officials, ambassadors, diplomats, publishers and authors who were briefed about Sharjah’s projects and initiatives that promote intercultural dialogue.

HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA said; “The Paris International Book Fair is one of the most important literary events in which we participate. A huge number of attendees take part every year, making it the perfect opportunity to highlight the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, in building a platform for communication between all nations and cultures around the world.”

SBA made use of its participation at the event to highlight the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) Translation Grant, an initiative launched in 2011 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of SIBF, with the goal of enhancing cultural exchange and supporting copyright. The delegation also invited participating publishers to take part in SIBF and other activities organised by SBA.

Alongside SBA’s participation at the Paris International Book Fair, an SBA delegation visited the National Library of France, which contains more than 125,000 Arabic and Islamic manuscripts. Among these are Arabic graphic manuscripts such as Maqamat Al Hariri, which was illustrated by Al-Wasti, Panchatantra manuscripts and numerous others with equestrian, medicine, astronomy, geography and theoretical and applied science themes. 

The delegation discussed possible ways of cooperating in the future by co-organising major exhibitions and hosting unique and rare books and manuscripts borrowed from the library to display to the specialists, researchers and the public in Sharjah.

Hind Abdullah Lenaid, Manager of Fairs and Festivals at Sharjah Book Authority, said, “This exhibition, which we are negotiating to organise soon, will allow the public, students, researchers in the UAE to take a close look at precious Arabic manuscripts. More than 7,000 Arabic manuscripts in the National Library of France in Paris were collected centuries ago by merchants, nomads and French diplomats and delegated to Arabic and Islamic countries.”

The SBA delegation also visited the Arab World Institute in Paris and toured its various divisions and departments. They visited the museum, the library and the auditorium and explored avenues of cultural cooperation with the institute, discussing the organising of joint events and initiatives in Paris and Sharjah.

SBA organised various workshops on Arabic calligraphy at its participating stand at the Paris International Book Fair.

The workshops drew the attention of many visitors and raised the interests of non-Arab attendees, many of whom expressed amazement at the beauty of the Arabic calligraphy. Visitors contemplated the paintings and requested to know their meanings, while others had the courage to try and rewrite the letters their own way.

Established in 2014, SBA is dedicated to encouraging investment in creative industries and provides a platform for the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people from different countries and cultures.

It is also entrusted with emphasising the significant role of writers and their influence in spreading awareness of technological advancement and the availability of various sources of knowledge. SBA aspires to attract relevant bodies and figures operating in the cultural sector in general and in the publishing, printing, translation, documentation and children’s books in particular.

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