Sharjah in Greece
(Second from left) Ahmed Al Ameri, CEO of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) during a press conference on Tuesday in Greece. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Celebrating a new milestone in its cultural journey of fostering meaningful intercultural connections, Sharjah proudly assumes the role of the first Arab Guest of Honour at the 20th Thessaloniki International Book Fair (TIBF), scheduled from May 16-19.

In its engagement at the fair, Sharjah is poised to curate a comprehensive cultural itinerary, featuring over 30 panel discussions, innovative workshops, and captivating heritage shows, and showcasing 10 books spanning poetry, prose, arts and studies, all translated into Greek, in an open dialogue with the cultural landscape in Greece.

Deeper collaboration

Led by Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), the emirate’s delegation will be represented by more than 20 cultural, educational, and heritage institutions from Sharjah, who will work towards fostering deeper collaboration and partnerships between Emirati entities and their Greek counterparts. The delegates will exemplify Sharjah’s cultural project, which stems from the Emirati and Arab identity, in its quest to create a global positive impact on knowledge and the creative industries.

Impact of World Book Capitals on children

The Sharjah Guest of Hnour (GoH) programme was announced by Ahmed Al Ameri, CEO of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) during a press conference on Tuesday, which was organised by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, in cooperation with Greek Publishers to unveil the agenda of the 20th edition of the The Thessaloniki International Book Fair (TIBF).

“Through the Sharjah Guest of Honour programme at TIBF, we are keen to foster constructive dialogue with all entities dedicated to culture and the creative industries, globally. The TIBF will bring new networking opportunities for authors, cultural entities, publishing and copyrights professionals as well as literary agents, and offer the Greek and global communities a gateway to the history of Emirati culture,” said Al Ameri.

“Each time Sharjah is celebrated as the Guest of Honour at leading international book fairs around the world, we are used to calling for more communication and collaboration with Emirati and Arab culture. However, here in Greece, our call is different, because collaboration and communication has always been a mainstay between our cultures. Our message will be to renew the world’s faith in the transformative power of books in empowering communities to build a better future that befits our children and grandchildren,” Al Ameri added.

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Unlocking worlds

The TIBF will host Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi in a session titled ‘Unlocking Worlds: Children’s Literature and World Book Capitals,’ to speak about her book World Book Capital, which addresses the ‘Sharjah World Book Capital 2019’ experience. Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi will be highlighting the transformative power of children’s literature in raising awareness about World Book Capitals, alongside Anna Routsi, World Book Capital Network Expert, and will delve into the inspiration behind such literary endeavours, and her efforts in promoting Arab culture globally.

University of Athens pays tribute to Sharjah

On May 22, the University of Athens will pay homage to Sharjah’s participation in TIBF by hosting a session titled ‘Timeless Cultural Relations Between Greece and the Arab World: Contemporary Literature of the United Arab Emirates.’ Esteemed authors Mohamad el Khalidi, Ali Al Abdan, Ibrahim Al Hashemi, Eleni Kondyli, Emeritus Professor of Arabic Studies, and Persa Koumoutsi, Writer and Translator of Arabic Literature, will convene to explore contemporary literature and its resonance across linguistic and cultural boundaries through readings and discussions.

Strengthening Arab-Greek ties

The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) will organise a session titled ‘Cultural Connections between Arabs and Greece,’ featuring Dr. Sultan Al Amimi, Chairman of the Emirates Writers Union, and Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage, in dialogue with Dr. Haris Meletiadis of Pandion University. Moderated by Giannis Kessopoulos, this session will delve into the deep-rooted historical and cultural affinities between the two civilisations.