Officials review the safety measures for the upcoming Sharjah Children's Reading Festival. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Under the directive of the Sharjah Executive Council, the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) has established a special safety committee in collaboration with relevant government bodies, to oversee the safety and security of visitors attending the 14th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF). The committee held its inaugural meeting on April 25 to deliberate on strategies to ensure that the 12-day cultural event, scheduled to run from May 3-14 at the Expo Center Sharjah, will not only be an exciting gathering of knowledge and activities but also be to the very highest safety standards for all the visitors.

Representatives from various entities, including the Sharjah Police, Sharjah Civil Defense, Sharjah Health Authority, and the Expo Center Sharjah management, were present at the meeting. The members of the committee, chaired by Colonel Omar Ali Al Ghazal, Deputy Director of the Special Tasks Department of Sharjah Police, assigned tasks according to their specialties and discussed ways to prevent any possible accidents that could occur. Communication channels and coordination with the operations centre were also scrutinised to once again ensure complete safety at all times.

The newly assigned committee conducted a tour of the festival area and formulated a plan to conduct evacuation and emergency drills with the participation of all teams responsible for ensuring the safety of all SCRF visitors and staff. Badr Saab, the SBA representative, presented the Sharjah Expo Centre floor-plans, which include all its main and side entrances, emergency exits, and assembly points. The committee members confirmed the teams’ readiness to evacuate thousands of festival visitors safely in a matter of minutes in case of emergency.

On the following day, in the presence of Ahmed bin Rakad Al Ameri, Chairman of the SBA, the committee carried out evacuation and emergency drills. The special operations team of Sharjah Police and the Civil Defense firefighters simulated fire incidents and conducted clearance, first aid, and cordoning areas to ensure safety, with the support and assistance of the explosive detection team and other teams. The participating members also thoroughly inspected the alarm systems and ensured every aspect of safety was considered at the festival venue.

Badr Saab, Director of the Government Communication Department at SBA, said: “Forming the Safety Committee is a priority as it aligns with our complete dedication to ensure the security and safety of all festival visitors at all times, most of whom are children who require continuous supervision and monitoring from supervisors, volunteers, and parents. We are ready and completely prepared to cooperate with all relevant entities to provide all that is necessary to make visitors’ experiences unique and safe.”