Sharjah: Instilling the love of reading among youth forms part of Sharjah’s cultural and development goals, the chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) said ahead of the opening of Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF).
Ahmad Al Ameri, in an exclusive interview with Gulf News, said SCRF reflects the cultural and development vision of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah; and his wife Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, to build a knowledge-based community by fostering the creativity of young minds and instilling in them a love for the written word,
Organised by SBA, the annual festival’s 12th edition opens its doors at 4pm on Wednesday at Expo Centre Sharjah. The 2021 edition hosts 32 authors and 172 publishers from 15 countries, and is held under the theme ‘For Your Imagination’.
In the interview, Al Ameri highlighted the extensive line-up of cultural activities and programmes and drew attention to the COVID-19 precautionary measures in place at the venue, while also elaborating on the role of the event in promoting creative industries in the Arab world.
Question: What can we expect from the 2021 edition of SCRF? How different is it going to be this year?
Answer: As with the earlier editions, this year too we will host a series of events, workshops and other interactive activities that will transport young generations to a wonderful world of innovative edutainment with the participation of popular artists and experts who will lead 537 specialised activities and a series of theatrical shows and workshops.
What is different this year is that although many of the authors will be attending sessions in person, those unable to do so will participate via virtual platforms.
The ninth edition of the Sharjah Children’s Book Illustrations Exhibition, which attracts Arab and international children’s book illustrators every year, will also be hosted on the sidelines of SCRF.
This year’s edition will enable the audience to explore the creative art form of comic books at the Comics Corner, which will offer 132 workshops, as well as artistic and entertainment activities delivered by Arab and international experts and artists.
Question: Why is it important to organise such festivals, especially during these exceptional times?
Answer: [SBA] is committed to furthering the cultural journey of Sharjah, as envisioned by [Dr Shaikh Sultan].
The cultural and creative sectors contribute to positive social impact, including the wellbeing and health of the community. Art and culture sustained us during the period of lockdown, keeping us connected to friends, family and strangers around the world through online events and other programmes. Organising the 12th edition of SCRF with all precautions in place, is our way of taking the cultural movement forward.
Question: Could you shed some light on some of the highlights of the festival?
Answer: The 12th edition of SCRF will host 537 activities, which will include exhibitions, plays, workshops and other interactive and cultural sessions, taking young generations on an entertaining and educative journey aided by writers and publishers from around the world.
Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy several shows performed by top Arab artists. There will also be culinary sessions led by renowned Arab chefs and ten social media workshops that will be presented by Arab and international experts.
The popular Comics Corner will organise 110 workshops presented by specialists and experts, and 22 shows.
Question: What COVID-19 precautionary measures can visitors expect at the SCRF venue?
Answers: We will follow a comprehensive and strict COVID-19 preventative plan at the Sharjah Expo Centre during SCRF. This will include daily sanitisation throughout the venue’s halls and common areas, thermal scanning at all access points and placement of hand sanitiser stations across the venue. In addition, preventive practises such as face masks and physical distancing will be mandatory and implemented throughout the 11-day event.
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Question: How does an international festival of this stature, dedicated to children and young people, align with the vision and objectives of SBA?
Answer: The Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival is an important pillar that advances Sharjah’s comprehensive development goals and aligns with the vision of [Dr Shaikh Sultan] to provide a nurturing environment to enhance the knowledge and unleash the creative potential of children and the youth.
SBA is therefore committed to organising cultural activities that ignite young minds, nurture their creativity and expand their knowledge. By providing the young generation with a space for learning, playing and gaining new experiences and facilitating the opportunity to meet writers, artists and publishers from all over the world, Sharjah is emerging as a model of development for other countries — both in the region and across the globe.