Frankfurt: Books act as messengers of wisdom not only for the UAE, but also for the Arab and Islamic world as a whole, said His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
Thanks to its efforts in promoting books as a prime source of culture, intellect and science, Sharjah was named World Book Capital 2019, added the Sharjah Ruler.
Dr Shaikh Sultan made these remarks on Wednesday while meeting with senior Emirati media personnel and editors-in-chief of national newspapers at the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) pavilion at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany.
He highlighted that the array of challenges that Sharjah’s pioneering cultural projects had faced, in fact, played a pivotal role in gaining numerous worldwide accolades and forging unprecedented achievements. Those challenges served as a catalyst to increase efforts.
Dr Shaikh Sultan stressed that while individuals might become frustrated at such challenges and difficulties, particularly due to the scale of the tasks at hand, the emirate harnessed hurdles as motivation to continue its progress.
He spoke to the media about the focal point of his cultural vision of building a knowledge-based society and creating generations blessed with ethics, meaningful education and scientific knowledge. He also emphasised that the most effective way to face negative forces is through education and upbringing from an early age, all the way through to university, adding that this will empower individuals and develop their critical thinking and decision-making skills.
He further stressed that Sharjah’s educational institutions are dedicated to ensuring that children have access to the highest quality education, beginning with kindergartens that feature a host of qualified teachers and experts on childcare. They also advise on best health practices such as discouraging artificial feeding and encouraging natural breastfeeding to enhance the babies’ welfare.
Dr Shaikh Sultan also emphasised the role of Sharjah Children’s Centres, Sharjah Youth Centre and Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah in protecting children and young adults, as well as developing their scientific, intellectual, creative and personal skills. His Highness gave many examples that illustrated the positive effects, such as enhancing self-confidence, achieving excellence and being innovative and creative in all fields. He explained that all of the entities had been re-evaluated and restructured to enhance their effectiveness.
Speaking about his own personal efforts in terms of culture in the Arab world, the Sharjah Ruler explained that his resolve exemplifies the fight against extremism, and the more the battle intensifies, the more determined he is to defeat it, armed with Arab and Islamic culture, and with nothing to hide.
He said the only solution to the current situation is restoring the true, peaceful faith which ensures stability, security and the ability to produce knowledge and culture.
He further highlighted the importance of taking part in different international fairs and exhibitions which provide platforms to communicate with other cultures, enhance dialogue and promote the literary and scientific values of the Arab and Islamic world, as well as draw on international experience and expertise.
On the impact of media, Dr Shaikh Sultan noted that media faces an ongoing challenge, whether it is newspapers, TV or radio. He said that content and programming are suffering because some media professionals have a primary mission to improve ratings and readerships in order to raise advertising revenues, regardless of the impact on quality.
Support to intellectuals
He also underscored the importance of supporting authors, illustrators, publishers and other experts to develop the quality and quantity of literature. He applauded Sharjah’s cultural initiatives to restore confidence and support to intellectuals in the Arab world — many of whom had been disheartened by a lack of respect and recognition — in addition to the launch of children’s programmes to build a new generation of writers, poets and intellectuals.
Dr Shaikh Sultan underlined the fact that one of the most significant cultural aspects of European countries is that many of the institutions are not funded by governments, but supported by donations from organisations and individuals. He added that it is important such funding should be monitored.
Academy of Performing Arts
He also spoke about the Sharjah Academy of Performing Arts, which will include acting, dancing, performing and singing. He noted that the inauguration ceremony of the academy will feature a theatrical performance — a play written by him that addresses the Quran, the true light that guides people to peace and love, and the true religious reference, without which people will be distracted to the wrong path and will see degradation and darkness that cannot be faced without the true light of the Quran.
He said the Sharjah Academy of Performing Arts is the first-of-its-kind in Arab world.
Sharjah book fair
Dr Shaikh Sultan also addressed the development of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) which over 35 years has developed into an international event, giving people access to a wide sources of science and knowledge through a huge collection of new books and titles, as well as periodicals that date back to decades ago.
Four of Dr Shaikh Sultan’s books will be showcased in the coming edition of SIBF — ‘Poetry Debates between Shaikh Sultan Bin Saqr Al Qasimi and His Friend, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Aziz Al Siddiqui’; ‘Tale of A City’, after adding a number of chapters to become 17 chapters; ‘Very Important Journey’, which features significant manuscripts about the region in Portuguese, English and Arabic; and ‘I Owe’, which includes nine letters to the king that proves the persecution of Muslims in Andalusia.