Sharjah: The 11-day Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), which begins on April 18, will this year showcase, as its main exhibition, a journey into the future where Artificial Intelligence and robots will be part of our daily lives.
The ‘Future Machine’, hosted for the first time in the festival’s 10-year history, will offer a series of insightful and entertaining activities to broaden the understanding of future technologies, organisers said.
Live visual shows offering children insights into the new digital age, models and replicas that run on the basics of Artificial Intelligence and the principles of how robots function will be some of the exhibition’s attractions.
Details of the festival’s 10th edition, to be held at Expo Centre Sharjah, were announced during a press conference on Monday at the headquarters of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA).
The event is open to all members of the public, free of charge.
Scores of books, authors, illustrators, galleries, games and performances will educate and entertain visitors, officials said on Monday.
Last year, 306,000 people visited the festival over its 11-day run.
On Monday, Ahmad Al Ameri, chairman of SBA, speaking at the press conference, described the festival as “Sharjah’s gift to the world”. He said children are “the decorations of our lives” and as such deserve our full attention towards their development.
Other first-time attractions include 3D pop-up books, and new festival mascots: ‘Noqta’ (dot), ‘Qalam’ (pen), ‘Wamda’ (flash), and ‘Shuaa’ (beam).
There will be a line-up of 2,600 cultural and literary events and activities, while books and literary materials will be showcased by 134 publishers from 18 Arab and foreign nations. Also participating are 286 authors, poets and literary guests from 121 countries.
This year, the festival’s theme is ‘Your Future … Just a Book Away’.
Attending Monday’s press conference were Mohammad Hassan Khalaf, director-general of Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC); Mohammad Al Amimi, vice-president of Business and Customer Relations at etisalat; several SBA officials and other guests.
Al Ameri said the festival reflects the vision of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to nurture future generations.
He added that the event’s programme has been designed in line with the guidance of Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of Dr Shaikh Sultan and chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.
Of the 134 participating publishers, the UAE tops the list with 62 representations, followed by Lebanon (22), Egypt (21), Jordan and the UK with five publishers each, in addition to companies from the United States, South Korea and China, among others.
The SCRF 2018 will host a series of interactive activities spanning several programmes under the main themes of Kids Activities, Cultural Programmes, Cultural Café, Kids’ Creative Café, Social Media Café and Cookery Corner.
Al Ameri said the Italian Board on Books for Young People will be the Guest of Honour this year, with representation at the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) stand.
Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 2018
When: April 18 to 28
Where: Expo Centre Sharjah
Fee: Free admission
Timings: 9am to 8pm; Fridays (4pm to 10pm)
Highlights: 134 publishers; illustrators from 54 countries; 2,600 activities
Foreigh authors: Foreign guests include British children’s book author Sibeal Pounder; American poet and author Mark Gonzalez; award-winning Indian children’s author Natasha Sharma; Indian actor and producer Varun Pruthi; British children’s author and illustrator Ed Vere; and American award-winning children’s author Miranda Paul.