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Prominent Chinese authors including Yang Feng, Liu Liangcheng, and Cai Jun, will be part of the delegation to participate in the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The 32nd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), will prominently feature China’s contributions.

Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism’s Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ADALC), the event embodies the enduring historical and cultural connections between the UAE and China, a relationship that spans more than five decades.

In this year’s exhibition, China boasts its largest participation in any international book fair, trailing only behind the Frankfurt Book Fair. The event, being held from May 22 to 28, will see the active involvement of 50 Chinese government publishing houses, with 20 present in-person and the remainder participating through representatives. The contributions from these publishing houses span across various fields, including academic, literary, educational, and specialised children’s books.

Key participants from China

Key participants from China this year include the Beijing International Book Fair, China National Book Import and Export Group, China Educational Publications Import and Export Corporation, and prominent publishing houses such as Ellen Translation and Publishing, Beijing Language and Culture University, Geely Children’s Books, Sichuan Publishing Group Co Ltd, and Phoenix Media and Publishing Group.

However, the Chinese representation at the book fair extends beyond publishing houses. A delegation of 40 participants, consisting of officials, publishers, writers, and intellectuals, will also grace the event. Their contributions to various programs of the exhibition are expected to make a significant impact.

Arab-Chinese Cooperation

Among the Chinese events featured in the professional program are a seminar on copyright exchange, a discussion on China’s experience and future in self-publishing, the “Arab-Chinese Copyright Forum” featuring 10 Chinese publishing houses, and the “Forum for Dialogue of Asian Civilizations — Arab-Chinese Cooperation in the Field of Publishing: Prospects and Opportunities”. 

The cultural programme of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair promises active Chinese involvement, including a session with celebrated Chinese suspense author, Cai Jun. The session will focus on youth literature in China and the adaptation of literary works for screen. Additionally, a seminar entitled “Chinese Literature through Arab Eyes” will revolve around the renowned Chinese novel “The Messenger,” featuring its author, Liu Ling Cheng, Chairman of China’s Xinjiang Writers’ Union.

Arabic translation of Chinese works

The exhibition will also witness the unveiling of a series of Chinese works translated into Arabic, introducing 10 editions for the first time in the Arabic language. This event will include the participating translators and publishers, along with the signing of copyright agreements for 30 Chinese books with Arab publishing houses, featuring globally best-selling Chinese science fiction novel “The Wandering Earth”.

For enthusiasts of Chinese literature, a dedicated seminar titled “Science Fiction Literature in China and the Prospects of Arab-Chinese Cooperation” will be held. Furthermore, fans of Chinese art can look forward to a cultural concert titled “China through Emirati Eyes” presented by UAE school students in Chinese on the “Learn” platform.

Cultural programs

In addition to these cultural programs, the Chinese delegation and representatives of Chinese publishing houses will meet officials from the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center to explore opportunities for mutual participation at the Beijing Book Fair and ways to enhance cooperation between the two events. The Chinese delegation will also tour several of Abu Dhabi’s cultural and historic landmarks, such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, and several cultural centers affiliated with the Department of Culture and Tourism.

The strong bilateral cultural relations between the UAE and China are rooted in decades of cultural cooperation. The late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s historic visit to Beijing in May 1990 marked a new era in the two countries’ relationship. His trip, the first of any Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leader to China, laid the foundation for ongoing cultural interactions.

National workforce

This relationship continues to deepen through frequent official visits between the two nations and the shared commitment to foster cultural exchange. A significant step in these efforts was the 2010 launch of the first school in the region dedicated to teaching Chinese in Abu Dhabi. This initiative aimed to build a specialised national workforce serving as a bridge to boost civilizational and cultural communication.

Further testament to this commitment, the Chinese Language Teaching Program now operates in 200 Emirati schools. The UAE Ministry of Education is even considering incorporating Chinese language instruction into its curriculum and designating schools for this purpose as part of its future strategy, demonstrating the breadth and depth of this cultural relationship.