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During a press event held in the presence of Antonio Buzzone Image Credit:

Sharjah: The Italian city of Bologna is celebrating Sharjah as guest of honour at their upcoming Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) from March 30 to April 2.

Sharjah’s programme includes panel discussions, interactive activities and traditional shows that highlight the experiences of the UAE and Arab world in supporting children and young adults’ books.

The programme the emirate has designed for the book fair was revealed during a press event. The programme will be led by a line-up of more than 20 authors, illustrators, storytellers and publishers from the UAE and wider Arab region, brought together in partnership with a host of Sharjah’s cultural entities to educate Italian and international audiences about the UAE’s history of engagement with children’s literature.

Khoula Al Mujaini, Director of Fairs and Festivals at Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), said: “This book fair is a wonderful platform to be presenting Sharjah’s efforts and initiatives dedicated to making the world of books and reading more exciting and accessible to young readers, under the leadership and guidance of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives of Her Highness Shaikha Jawaher bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA).”

She added: “With our city celebrating its status as the UNESCO World Book Capital (SWBC) 2019, we have been approaching our efforts and ambitions in a way that can have a stronger and sustainable regional and global impact.”

Sharjah will be using the BCBF 2020 platform to foster collaboration between illustrators and children’s author, said Al Mujaini, adding that preparations for one such initiative have been underway for over a year. SBA rolled out an ‘Illustration Production Workshop’ in February 2019 to upskill Emirati illustrators specialised in children’s books, and train them to participate at BCBF 2020. The outcomes of this workshop series, which was led by renowned artists from around the world, will be presented at the Sharjah Pavilion in BCBF 2020.

Alongside these matchmaking events, Sharjah will also host matchmaking sessions for Emirati and Italian illustrators and publishers at the fair venue, to boost networking opportunities, support literary translations, and enable key discussions surrounding the complexities involved in the translation of children’s literature.

Elena Pasoli, Exhibition manager, BCBF, said: “We are really very happy to have Sharjah Emirate as the Guest of Honour at the next Bologna Children’s Book Fair; this participation has its roots in a very long friendship and collaboration with the Sharjah Book Authority, which we warmly and gratefully thank for the amazing programme they’re preparing both for the fair and the city of Bologna. There’s everywhere a huge and growing interest in discovering more about Emirates’ illustration and literature and we are very proud to offer the international children’s book community such a deep dive into their wonderful world.”