Sharjah itself is known for hosting its annual international book fair Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The eyes of the global publishing community are on Sharjah as the emirate gears up to unveil a rich Guest of Honour (GoH) programme at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) 2022, which runs from March 21 to 24. Sharjah becomes the first Arab city to be conferred the honour in BCBF’s 59-year history.

The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) will be overseeing the emirate’s diverse programme at the 59th edition of the book fair, which aims to bring the best of Emirati and Arab literature and culture to Italy and Europe.

With a line-up of children’s authors, illustrators, publishers from the UAE and the region, as well as local cultural entities who will be leading Sharjah’s GoH activities, the emirate’s pavilion at BCBF 2022 will also be turning the spotlight on leading initiatives designed to raise capable young generations that treasure books and literature.

Sharjah’s participation will offer Emirati and Arab publishing professionals and as well as the wider literary community a key opportunity for peer-to-peer networking and cross-cultural dialogue with global publishing professionals.

The head of the Sharjah GoH delegation and Chairman of the Department of Government Relations (DGR), Sharjah, Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, said: “We are extremely proud of this achievement, which reinforces the emirate’s reputation as a place that has held a book in one hand and a child in the other through its 50-year developmental journey. We are excited to showcase the emirate’s successful experience in placing the individual at the heart our progress, especially the younger generations, which have made Sharjah the first city to receive the prestigious UNICEF child- and youth-friendly city titles twice. These accolades prove the effectiveness of our child-focused policies and sustainable initiatives dedicated to creating a safe, open and nurturing environment for them to thrive.”

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: “Sharjah is going to Bologna not only with the intention of participating as the guest of honour in BCBF 2022, but to share Emirati and Arab culture with everyone in Italy. The emirate today leads a massive cultural project, thanks to the vision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, which has resulted in the formation of strong bridges of friendship and exchange between us and the world.”


The SBA Chairman revealed that more than 30 writers, illustrators, artists and storytellers from the UAE and the Arab world would hold panel discussions, workshops, reading and matchmaking sessions to highlight the leading experiences of the UAE and the Arab region in supporting and promoting children and young adults’ books, and exchange expertise and knowledge with their Italian and European counterparts, adding that he is looking forward to establishing more cooperation between the Arab and Italian publishers during the book fair.

Part of Sharjah’s exciting cultural itinerary at BCBF 2022, SBA will present 17 Arabic-Italian translations of children’s books authored by Emirati writers. To promote literature from the Arab region, SBA will organise several hands-on children’s workshops and interactive storytelling sessions at the Sharjah pavilion as well as at Bologna’s main public library — Salaborsa. The Authority will also host two film shows at the Testoni Ragazzi Theatre.

The emirate’s pavilion will include the participation of Sharjah Book Authority, Emirates Writers Union, Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, Sharjah Publishing City, Sharjah Department of Culture, Sharjah Heritage Institute, Emirates Publishers Association, the UAE Board on Books for Young People, Kalimat Group, Kalimat Foundation, Knowledge Without Borders, and 1001 Titles initiative.