The panel discussion was held under the theme ‘Travel Literature from the UAE’ Image Credit: Supplied

Guadalajara: Travel bloggers and writers help build bridges between civilisations and cultures, heard the ongoing 36th Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico.

This was given emphasis during a panel discussion titled ‘Travel Literature from the UAE’. During the session moderated by Juan Camilo Rincón, Emirati researcher and media personality Said Hamdan compared three distinct phases of travel literature in the UAE while Mexican author Mariana Camacho discussed the growing phenomenon of culinary writing and its impact on travel literature around the world.

Travel goals

Hamdan said: “Renowned historic travellers from the UAE include poet Ibn Dhaher, who lived during the late 17th century, and documented through his poems the country’s villages, coasts, terrain and environment, and Ahmed bin Majid bin Julfar, commonly known in the 14th century as the Prince of the Seas.”

He added: “Following the formation of the UAE in December 1971, travel goals witnessed a shift with an increased focus on trade, exploration and education opportunities, while the modern world is marked by a sense of adventure in exploring new places and destinations. Social media plays an important role in documenting travel experiences today as bloggers share details of their journeys with their followers.”

Hamdan cited Muhammad Al Murr, author of ‘Around the World in 22 Days’; Nasser Al Dhaheri; poet Dr Shihab Ghanem, who documented his journeys through poetry in The Hijazi Journey; and Aisha Sultan, author of ‘Hawamesh Fe Al Modon Wa Al Raheel’ as some of the most prominent Emirati travel authors.

He also discussed the work of Dr Nafie Al Yassi, who visited more than 70 countries around the world, including Mexico, and has presented a comparative overview of traditional funeral rites and practices in the Latin American country and Arab and Islamic cultures.

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Cuisine of a nation

For her part, Camacho emphasised the cuisine of a nation or region serves as a gateway to cultures and countries around the world, noting that food is a symbol of the unique culture, history, values and traditions of peoples around the world.

Camacho noted travel authors who focused on the culinary domain during their travels were successful in connecting readers with new cultures in a fun and entertaining manner.

She added: “Travel literature is very important as it provides a vessel for readers to visit countries around the world. Travellers are also influenced by the countries they visit even if they are not immediately aware of how their travel experience has changed them.”