rare manuscripts at SIBF 2022
The special exhibits at the fair have been organised by Italy’s ancient Ambrosiana Library and the Catholic University of Sacred Heart Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Visitors to the ongoing 41st Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) have the rare opportunity to see a special exhibition of priceless manuscripts copied from the Quran dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as the family tree of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

Organised by Italy’s ancient Ambrosiana Library and the Catholic University of Sacred Heart, the gilded pages on display have been perfectly preserved – complete with genealogy, geography, history, linguistics, literature, and detailed description of their origin and history.

Also on display is a 17th century cosmology book ‘Miracles of Existence’ featuring one of the most acclaimed Arabic dictionaries. There is also Firuzabadi’s 14th century manuscript Al Qamus Al Muhit, and the oldest on exhibit – a 13th century manuscript on the sciences of Quran titled ‘Uncovering the Faces of The Seven Readings’, by Makki bin Abi Talib Al Quaisi.

Future storytellers

From history to the future of society, SIBF is honing kids to become storytellers. There are interactive zones such as Gardening, Drawing, Music and Storytelling, where kids join in various activities and sharing of stories.

“The idea is about self-awareness, so the children get to know themselves,” said Anthony Estephan, host for Tekdir Live Theatrical Show Production, adding: “Kids react to colours, they love colours, so I chose to wear something with flowers, something happy…Who knows? Maybe one of them could become the next Picasso, or the next Mozart, maybe they will build something amazing or become a great storyteller.”

During one of the interactive zones for children Image Credit: Supplied

Digital canvas

Young visitors can also learn about art, including colour mixing and creating 3D effects through simple and effective techniques via the Procreate app.

The workshop teaches kids some of the tools of the app as they become comfortable with selecting digital brushes and the colour pallet. They also learn creating tints, shades and tones as well as techniques in create a 3D (three-dimensional) effect in drawing.

Social comedy

Critically acclaimed social satire ‘London Apartment’ has made a debut at SIBF. The Arabic-language social comedy, set in an apartment in London, highlighted many current social issues and had the audience entertained with moments of laughter.

London Apartment is part of the 123 immersive theatrical shows and roaming parades from eight countries curated for SIBF 2022. It is written by Issa Ahmad and directed by Mosa Arty, with the cast led by popular artists Tariq Al Al and Elham Al Fadalii.

‘London Apartment’ show at SIBF 2022 Image Credit: Supplied

‘Writing was my first dream’

Meanwhile, popular Egyptian actor and action hero Ahmed El Sakka revealed to his fans that he never intended to become an actor and instead, fancied becoming an art critic.

Sharing his love for books, Ahmed El Sakka said: “Although the technologies have advanced and there are eBooks at the touch of a button, I still favour the old fashioned way of reading. I love the written word, especially short stories, and I still collect many children’s stories from my time.”

During El Sakka's session Image Credit: Supplied

‘Cooking requires logic and planning’

Indian chef Vicky Ratnani spiced up the Cookery Corner at SIBF as he rustled up dishes which drew inspiration from Indian and Arabic influences, while keeping the audience entertained with funny quips and one-liners.

He said: “While cooking is not rocket science, it does require some logic and planning. Today, we don’t have the time to shop for ingredients and cook at leisure. So Urban Desi offers 49 recipes spanning the surf and turf categories, one-pot dishes and quick recipes which you can cook up in a few minutes.”

He also offered handy cooking tips such as replacing ghee with olive oil if one doesn’t like the taste of the former and heating up the cooking dish well in order to render the meat a good colour. The chef also offered tasting samples to the audience after the event and gave out signed copies of his new book.

More internationally renowned chefs are expected to share their expertise at SIBF’s Cookery Corner until November 13.

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Sharjah helps Italian bookshop

Meanwhile, Sharjah has committed to supporting efforts to restore the popular bookshop, Giannino Stoppani, in Bologna, Italy.

Sharjah World Book Capital has generously donated 50,000 euros to the restoration fund after a tragic fire severely damaged the iconic store in May of this year.

The shop was founded in 1983 by Simona Comelli, Grazia Gotti, Tiziana Roversi, Silvana Sola and Giampaola Tartarini – five ambitious women who specialised in literature for young children while studying at the University of Bologna.

Since its establishment, the bookstore has remained independent and has built a tremendous reputation for its expertise in publishing for children. Over the years it has become one of the primary consultants of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) and has been responsible for curating its “International Book Shop” which finds and promotes the best children’s books from around the world.

Bodour Al Qasimi, chair of the Sharjah World Book Capital, said: “When I heard about the fire at Giannino Stoppani, I knew that we as a publishing community needed to rally around the store in order for it to take up its important work once again. I am delighted that Sharjah World Book Capital has been able to offer its backing as the store strives to get back on its feet. I would like to thank Marcella Terrusi, the University of Bologna professor, who facilitated the contact and communication with the owners of Giannino Stoppani Bookshop.”