Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA (centre), accompanied by Khoula Al Mujaini (left), Director of Fairs and Festivals, SBA; and Mansour Al Hassani (right), Head of Sales, SBA, during the virtual meeting with Rimini Meeting Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ‘Meeting for Friendship amongst Peoples’ (Rimini Meeting), Italy’s cross-cultural entity that hosts thought leaders, to strengthen communication between Emirati, Arab and European cultures.

For more than 40 years, the Rimini Meeting – one of Europe’s most important cultural and literary events – has been bringing together presidents, world leaders, thinkers, scholars, artists, and intellectuals of every discipline and from across the world of culture, to exchange ideas and open dialogues for mutual enrichment.

Gathering of leaders

The annual gathering attracts more than 800,000 people annually, including participation of tens of thousands of volunteers. YouTube broadcasts of its activities has reached over 2.5 million viewers.

Prominent world personalities hosted at Rimini Meeting over the years include Pope Francis; Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former UN Secretary-General; Helmut Kohl, former Chancellor of Germany; and Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the UK.

The Rimini Meeting has also convened American scholar and philosopher Naom Chomsky; French playwright Eugène Ionesco; Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky; and many Arab leaders and thinkers including Abdelaziz Bouteflika, former President of Algeria; Amr Moussa, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt; Mostafa El Feki, diplomat and historian; Dr Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, scholar of Quranic studies; Usama Al Abd, academic; and Bishop Anba Ermia.

New deal

The MoU was signed by Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, and Emmanuele Forlani, Managing Director of Rimini Meeting, via a virtual meeting on the Zoom platform. The signing took place in the presence of Bernhard Scholz, President of Rimini Meeting; Marco Aluigi, Congress Manager of Rimini Meeting; Khoula Al Mujaini, Director of Fairs and Festivals, SBA; and Mansour Al Hassani, Head of Sales, SBA.

The MoU stipulates the terms for launching mutual initiatives to promote human values, as well as investing in arts, literature and knowledge to reinforce cross-cultural communication between the UAE, Italy and Europe, in addition to promoting the cultural landscape and the authors and artists in both countries.

Al Ameri said: “SBA believes that culture is the strongest tool to build bridges between the world’s peoples and cultures. Under the directives and vision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, SBA is committed to partnering with leading cultural entities and organisations to strengthen cultural cooperation and build long-term relations with countries worldwide.”

He added: “Sharjah is leading intellectual dialogue between the Arab world and global nations and through this agreement, the emirate looks forward to expanding opportunities for greater convergence between Arab and Italian cultures, and to introduce Arab authors and Arab history to our counterparts in Europe on one of the most prestigious communication platforms in the world.”

Al Ameri said the emirate is eager to welcome Italian cultural entities, publishers and creative authors to the numerous international events organised by SBA.

He emphasised that the objectives of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) align with those of Rimini Meeting, most notably in promoting mutual understanding and building bridges between the world’s countries and civilisations, by exploring authentic cultural aspects that espouse noble human values and ethics in relationships.

Exemplary bilateral relations

Bernhard Scholz, President of the Rimini Meeting, thanked the SBA for its efforts in enriching the global cultural movement, and pointed out that the agreement between the two parties was the outcome of SBA’s continuous initiatives in this regard. The agreement offered an inspiring example of bilateral relations between two countries to the world, he added.

Scholz stated that Italians are aware of the historical depth and contemporary impact of Arab culture and pointed out that the emirate’s cultural project sheds light on the Arab cultural wealth, and enriches other cultures too, through joint initiatives with vibrant entities in the region and across the world.

An SBA delegation had previously met with the Rimini Meeting management during a cultural tour across various Italian cities in September to explore cultural collaboration, and forge closer ties with Europe’s foremost cultural entities.