His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah at the Comics Corner, which will host 323 activities. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The highly anticipated 14th annual Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2023) was inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, on Wednesday.

The region’s largest festival of its kind dedicated to stimulate creativity in young minds and bring them closer to books, runs for 12 days until May 14 in Expo Centre Sharjah and carries the theme ‘Train your brain’.

The Sharjah Ruler was received by Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah; Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence; Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Founder and CEO of Kalimat Group, and Immediate Past President of International Publishers Association (IPA); Sheikh Salem bin Abdulrahman Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Ruler’s Office; Sheikh Faisal bin Saud Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Airport Authority; and HE Dr Nevine El-Kilany, Egyptian Minister of Culture, along with a number of governmental and educational entities representatives and directors.

He toured the festival, viewing the 141 Arab and international publishers exhibiting this year and was briefed on the 1,732 events celebrating SCRF’s theme ‘Train your Brain’, which will be led by 457 authors, artists, publishers, illustrators, and experts from 66 countries.

He visited the pavilions of the Ministry of Education, the House of Wisdom, the Sharjah Private Education Authority and the Department of Social Services, in addition to the institutions of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and the UAE Board on Books for Young People.

He also visited the exhibitions of the Emirates Publishers Association, the Department of Culture and the Emirates School Establishment (ESE), in addition to the Kalimat Foundation, the Sharjah Radio and Television Authority, and the Rubu’ Qarn Foundation for Creating Future Leaders and Innovators. The representatives at each of these pavilions briefed His Highness on the most prominent activities they have curated for the festival to nurture the skills and personalities of SCRF’s young visitors.

Sheikh Sultan was briefed on SCRF’s agenda and participating entities in addition to the diverse exhibitions, educational and creative platforms that it offers to children, youth, and their families.

The Sharjah Ruler also visited the Comics Corner, which will host 323 activities, including workshops, panel discussions, and a series of roaming shows led by 15 creatives from 4 countries, before exploring the Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition that brings together hundreds of illustrators from around the world.

SCRF 2023 is aimed at supporting Sharjah’s efforts to provide a comprehensive reading and creative environment that focuses on educating and refining the talents of children and youth. It also targets families with diverse activities to partner in motivating their children to read and use books to learn, build values, and preserve their authentic identity.

Over the course of 12 days, SCRF will provide children and families with an opportunity to pick up the latest titles in children’s literature from 93 Arab and 48 foreign publishers offering their latest works during the festival. Top participating countries in this edition include the UK, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the US, Australia, India, Pakistan, Algeria, and Iraq. This year, the UAE tops the list with 77 publishers, followed by Lebanon with 12 publishers, alongside many others.

The highly anticipated festival will feature 946 events and 136 theatrical shows and performances, including a diverse range of workshops for children covering arts, sports, science, and technology. The festival will also host 136 theatre performances, roaming shows, acrobat and music concerts led by 16 artists. The most notable activities include the comedy play Akbar the Great Nahi Rahe (performed in Hindi and Urdu) and the children’s show Masaka Kids Africana, which has performed around the world.

For the older segment of visitors, the 14th SCRF will be hosting 68 guests, including artists, writers, and creators from 21 countries, who will lead a diverse cultural programme of panel discussions and other events that shed light on some of the most critical issues facing the world today, as well as sessions focused on developing communication skills for children and nurturing their creative and intellectual skills and capabilities. Meanwhile, the Cookery Corner will be home to over 33 culinary activities presented by 13 renowned chefs from nine countries.

The Social Media Station will hold 72 activities led by influencers and content creators targeting all age groups.

SCRF 2023 sponsors list includes ‘Etisalat by e&’, who are the official sponsor and Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, the media partner, and Expo Centre Sharjah, the strategic partner.