Guadalajara: Sharjah turned the recently-concluded 36th Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL), the largest book fair in Latin America, into a global celebration of Emirati and Arab culture.
Sharjah was the Guest of Honour at the 36th edition of the fair, which took place from November 26 to December 4, and the UAE flag was prominently displayed along the exhibition pavilions and walls; while the names and pictures of Emirati and Arab authors, creators, and artists were on billboards.
Over the course of nine days, the Sharjah pavilion welcomed more than 500,000 visitors, who queued to have their names written in Arabic, and took part in the diverse cultural programme, including workshops, panel discussions, and music performances. Many of them also tried on traditional Emirati clothes and learned about embroidery techniques, weaving, henna arts and incense-making.
Visitors of all ages were enthralled by the Sharjah Guest of Honour Pavilion, which was designed as a row of gigantic books coloured with the UAE’s national flag colours. The tour inside the pavilion encapsulated the emirate’s cultural project launched under the directive and vision of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
Sharjah’s Guest of Honour Programme included over 200 individuals representing 23 cultural, heritage and academic institutions in the emirate presenting their most prominent publications and initiatives in the fields of literature, translation, art, libraries and heritage, to bring His Highness’s message and vision to the Mexican bookfair, under the supervision of Sharjah Book Authority.
Sheikh Sultan’s books
Arabic books written by Emirati authors which were translated into Spanish by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), were a massive hit during the bookfair. This was evident in the sale of 4,500 copies over the nine-day event, with the highest demand on the books authored by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. These included acclaimed titles such as ‘The Inquisition Documents of Crimes against More than Half a Million Muslims in Andalusia’ and ‘I Condemn’.
The Emirati and Arab film industry was also promoted with the screening of ‘Khorfakkan’ at two of the biggest cinemas in Guadalajara. The film which had Spanish subtitles received rave reviews from Mexican media, and tickets were completely sold out during its premiere.
Commenting on the conclusion of the emirate’s participation at FIL 2022, Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, chairman of the Department of Government Relations (DGR) in Sharjah, and head of the Sharjah delegation, said: “During Sharjah’s activities at the bookfair, we felt the Mexican’s eagerness to learn more concerning our Arab culture, and build bridges with our nation. It falls on our shoulders as institutions and individuals to follow in the footsteps of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and present the noble and authentic values of our Arab identity and civilisation to the world.”
Sheikh Fahim explained: “Nations and civilisations value and celebrate their counterparts especially after learning about the various aspects of their history and culture. The UAE’s participation and the Sharjah cultural project is a model that brings pride and honour to the nation.
“Mexico and other Latin American countries share many authentic values with Arabs, which makes it easier for us to build strong bridges that serve both cultures and their societies,” he added.
Sheikh Fahim underscored “deepening the relationships between UAE and Sharjah with other countries and cities worldwide, provides greater opportunities to achieve the aspirations of the country’s developmental aspirations”.
Connect and discover
For his part, SBA chairman Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, noted: “During the nine days of FIL 2022, we saw the vision of Sheikh Sultan, which looks at literature, art and knowledge being an open space for the citizens and civilisations of the world to connect and discover how close and similar they are with each other. This outlook was manifested in Sharjah’s pavilion this year.”
He added: “Through Sharjah’s participation in the book fair, we wanted to showcase the rich Emirati and Arab culture to Mexico. We were adamant to present our publishing scene, heritage, libraries and antiquities, as well as other elements from the cultural domain. We also shone light on Sharjah’s initiatives and projects to explore partnership opportunities with our Mexican counterparts.”
“We are proud of what the Emirati culture has accomplished in one of the most prominent book fairs in the world. We had the UAE flag adorning the book fair’s walls and our authors and intellectuals were received well by Mexican universities and schools. Every event we organised through this book fair was a manifestation of the importance of cultural exchange and its impact on building connections,” Al Ameri continued.
Khoula Al Mujaini added: “During our daily activities at the book fair, we felt the strength of the bonds that unite our cities increasing. We have achieved a great deal in facilitating bridges between the Emirati and Mexican peoples, through the exchange of experiences, expertise and creative outlooks about the publishing industry, our belief in the power of the book, and our shared passion for the written word.”
At the end of the closing ceremony, Sharjah handed the Guest of Honor title to the European Union who will be Guest of Honor of the Guadalajara International Book Fair 2023, where Al Mujaini presented a traditional coffee pot and cups made of porcelain and silver, from ‘Hind Designs’ by Sheikha Hind Al Qasimi, as a gift to the European Union, representatives.