Sharjah Heritage Days
Archive image of a previous edition of the festival showcasing a traditional Emirati coffee maker Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The culture, cuisine, performances and wares from 42 countries in the Arab region and wider world will go on show today evening at ‘Sharjah Heritage Days’ (SHD) in the Heart of Sharjah historic district and last till March 21.

The organisers, Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH), had earlier shared details of the latest 20th edition of SHD, which this year is being held under the slogan ‘Heritage and Creativity’. Besides the main venue of Heart of Sharjah in Sharjah city, events of SHD will be held in 12 other smaller cities and locations in the emirate, with the participation of 40 government agencies as well.

During a recent briefing ahead of the opening of SHD, Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, Chairperson of SIH and Chairman of the Supreme Organising Committee for SHD, had said the event has contributed to highlighting the aesthetic values of Arabic and other aspects of Emirati heritage, such as Emirati folklore. SHD maintains the sustainability of displaying the Emirates’ four environments: mountainous, agricultural, desert, and marine.

Wide participation

The General Coordinator of the 20th Sharjah Heritage Days, Abu Bakr Al Kindi, had mentioned that Hungary is the Guest of Honour country this year. At the same time, Austria has been highlighted as a distinguished guest in appreciation of the vast cultural heritage resources that both countries have accumulated throughout history and in appreciation of their diverse efforts in preserving heritage, national identity, and historical and archaeological cultural monuments.

He added that the list of countries participating in SHD activities includes Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, and Morocco. Other participating countries include Pakistan, Indonesia, Korea, India, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Georgia, Croatia, Turkey, Greece, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, Albania, Italy, Romania, North Macedonia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Brazil.

International organisations

SHD also hosts a group of Arab, Islamic and international organisations and institutes, the most important of which are UNESCO, the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), the International Organisation of Folk Art, the International Council of Organisations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICROM), and the National Museum of Antiquities and Heritage in Morocco, Centre for Chinese Cultural Heritage, the Olympias Folk Games Organisation in Italy, in addition to several other organisations, universities and cultural centres from different countries.

The agenda includes the organisation of six major exhibitions, with the participation of seven local publishing houses in the ‘Al-Kotubeen’ Market Exhibition for Old and Used Books. Organised for the second session in a row, it will include 20 new titles from the Institute in addition to other heritage books, brochures, exhibitions, cultural programmes, and more.

Programmes and events

Similar to its previous sessions, SHD’s cultural programmes are offered by the Cultural Café, academic programmes in addition to various intellectual lectures, workshops on Emirati crafts and education, entertainment, competitions, and games. The Children’s Village hosts activities for kids at five daily workshops, the Al-Hakawati programme presented by the International Story School, and the Children’s Theatre.

Arab heritage

The agenda of the SIH’s Arab Heritage Centre pavilion includes 18 cultural programmes with participation by 31 countries. Twenty-three participants will present various workshops and presentations.

The Cultural Café will present 18 lectures and cultural sessions, while the Emirati Crafts Centre, will contribute to the enrichment of the SHD programme by offering 16 traditional crafts and professions, 21 craft workshops, and traditional puzzles on social media platforms.

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New feature

The Bakers’ Quarter is one of the beautiful heritage additions to this session’s activities. It is an innovative experience that includes a group of bakeries specialised in cooking and selling fresh baked goods from all over the world. SHD Kitchen will also provide an interactive live cooking programme where the audience can participate and engage with chefs during live cooking demonstrations.

Packed agenda

In addition to the activities in the Heart of Sharjah, other locations for SHD events include

• From 3rd to 11th March, Madam in the Heritage Village.

• From 10th to 13th March, Wadi Al-Hilu activities in the Heritage Village.

• From 15th to 18th March, Kalba activities in the Al-Hosn Heritage neighbourhood.

• From 4th to 11th March, with the participation of 10 government agencies, shops for productive families, the Children’s Village and the Cultural Café.

• From 5th to 12th March, Khorfakkan activities in the heritage area in the western neighbourhood and in Al-Sidra neighbourhood in Al Luluyah, which include various heritage sessions, personal museums, display of traditional crafts, games, children’s theatre, and photo exhibition.

• From 11th to 18th March, Dibba Al-Hisn activities in the heritage village with the participation of 14 government agencies, in addition to the activities of the areas of Al-Bataeh, Maliha, Shees and Al-Nahwa.