Sharjah: The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and Milan-based Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana (VBA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Milan, Italy, to boost cooperation and access for researchers and academics to greater sources of knowledge.
Under the MoU, more than 2,500 rare Arabic manuscripts dating back to more than 450 years will be digitised and made available for the first time ever globally at the digital repository of SBA’s Sharjah Public Library (SPL).
VBA’s Arabic manuscripts collection is one of the finest and most important in Italy. Among its collection of Islamic and Arabic manuscripts are treatises on history, language, medicine, astronomy, geographical maps and manuscripts of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), known as the Hadith.
The MoU was signed by Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, SBA chairman, and Prof. Lorenzo Ornaghi, president of the Congregazione dei Conservatori, VBA, in the presence of Omar Obaid Alshamsi, UAE Ambassador to Italy; Federico Gallo, director of VBA; Mario Gatti, director of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan; Eman Bushlaibi, director of Sharjah Public Libraries (SPL); Marco Ballarini, prefect of VBA; Mansour Al Hassani, head of the Sales Department at SBA; and Dr Wael Farouq, associate professor of Arabic language and literature at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan.
In recognition of Sharjah’s cultural projects worldwide, the signing ceremony took place at the famed La Rosa Hall, which opens its doors only for special occasions and prominent events. Housing thousands of rare books and manuscripts, La Rosa Hall is one of the most prestigious cultural halls in the world. Some of the foremost Italian writers, thinkers, and artists, most notably Leonardo da Vinci, regularly visited and spent time in.
Bringing cultures together
Al Ameri said: “The MoU translates the vision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who firmly believes that books are sources of knowledge that bring cultures of the world together and strengthen cross-cultural communication, dialogue and collaboration. We believe that all peoples and civilisations are bound by the shared human experience and knowledge, and that our role is to nurture it with new literature and arts.
“The digitisation of this historic collection is invaluable not only for Arab academics and researchers, but also for readers around the world. We are certain that it will boost exchange of knowledge, fuel innovative projects across various fields, and play a key role in bringing Arab and Italian cultures together,” he added.
Alshamsi said the MoU bolsters cultural ties with Italy and is a valuable opportunity to explore new partnerships with more Italian cultural institutions. He underlined that SBA’s efforts to promote the exchange of knowledge across boundaries are in line with the UAE’s strategy to enhance cooperation with countries worldwide.
Meanwhile, Al Ameri also met Emmanuele Forlani, chairman of ‘Rimini Meeting’, a key cultural event held in the Italian city of Rimini. For 40 years now, the event has been bringing together leaders, intellectuals, literati and thinkers from around the world and is attended by around 2.5 million people.
The two parties explored opportunities to jointly host events between the Rimini Meeting and SIBF and discussed the impact of such cooperation on the global cultural movement.