Dubai: Sharjah will shine a light on the rich cultural and literary legacy of Emirati and Arab artists and authors as part of its diverse programming agenda as Guest of Honour at the upcoming 2022 edition of Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF), which runs from March 21-24.
Through an exciting range of activities, events, and visits organised by cultural and heritage institutions in the emirate, Sharjah will showcase the diversity of Arab literature and culture with Italian, European, and global visitors at BCBF this year.
Some 25 eminent authors, illustrators, artists and storytellers from the UAE and the Arab world will lead 21 creative workshops, panel discussions, storytelling sessions, theatre and more, during the four-day event, and will visit schools to introduce Emirati and Arab literature to Italian and Arab students.
Emirati creative culture
Commenting on Sharjah’s programmes at BCBF 2022, Khawla Al Mujaini, Director of Exhibitions and Festivals at Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), said: “As the entity responsible for overseeing the emirate’s Guest of Honour activities, SBA is keen on showcasing programmes that represent the Emirati and Arab cultural and creative movement in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to build bridges of crosscultural communciation and open new prospects for collaboration and joint action between Arab cultures with nations around the world.”
Al Mujaini added: “Hosting Emirati and Arab authors and illustrators at BCBF 2022 stems from our goal of supporting children’s literature and honing the skills and expertise of professionals in this sector. BCBF provides a unique networking opportunity to meet with Italian and European artists and authors and we look forward to forging new partnerships and fruitful collaborations with Arabic children’s book writers and their European counterparts.”
Al Mujaini continued: “In preparation for their participation at BCBF 2022, Emirati and Arab illustrators participating in the event were upskilled through ‘Illustration Production Workshops’ in collaboration with global mentors from different cultural backgrounds. The practical, hands-on training has broadened their practice and opened a new window of opportunity for artists in Sharjah and the Arab world.”
Illustration workshops, storytelling, and book signing sessions on Day 1
On the opening day on March 21, Kalimat Foundation for Children Empowerment (KF) will rganize a session highlighting the ’Pledge a Library’ initiative, which will be presented by Amna Al Mazmi, Director of the Foundation; Veronica Cerruti, Director, Bologna Library; and Flavia Cristiano, President, Italian Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).
Illustration workshops rganized on Day 1 inlcude a freehand drawing workshop led by Nasser Nasrallah; a session hosted by Mimaster, a professional training centre, at the Illustrators Survival Corner; and an ‘Island World Building’ workshop by artist Asmaa Al Hosani for participants aged 8 -11.
A storytelling and book-signing session for 4-6-year-olds will be led by Emirati artist Abdullah Al Sharhan during a visit to an international school to encourage early readers to explore and learn their first words through pictures, shapes and colours.
Artists, authors, illustrators and industry professionals lead sessions on Day 2
The particular challenges – including content-related and legal aspects – of translating children’s literature will be the subject of a panel discussion titled, ‘The process of creating a children’s book’, hosted by Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) on March 22. Moderated by Mariam Al Obaidli, Corporate Communication Manager, EPA, members on the panel include Tamer Saeed, General Manager of Kalimat Group; Dr. Alyazia Khalifa, founder of AlFulk for Publishing and Translation; Lina Chebaro, Copyrights Manager, Thaqafa Publishing and Distribution; and Carlo Gallucci of Gallucci Publishers.
At the Illustrators' Café, Emirati artists Wafa Ibrahim and Nasser Nasrallah will discuss their techniques, artistic approach and themes through a presentation of their works at the session titled ‘Illustrators from the UAE’ . Emirati authors Dubai Abulhoul and award-winning short story writer Fatima Sultan Al Mazrouei will discuss the significance of the Emirati identity and how they express this distinctive identity in their stories at the Authors Café.
The ‘Amazing Scraps’ workshop led by Khalid Al Banna will reveal how pre-cut paper scraps, ink and acrylic colours can be used to create unique creatures and birds in delightful shapes.
During a school visit, author Dr. Reem Al Gurg will narrate a story centred on the Sidr tree which is rooted in Emirati culture while artist Eman Al Raesi will lead an interactive workshop titled ‘Coloured Cats’.
Doll-making workshop, folktales, and storytelling sessions on Day 3
On March 24, at a session rganized by Knowledge without Borders (KwB) in collaboration with the Italian Teachers Association, Emirathi author Sheikha Mariam Al Qasimi will discuss the impact of folktales in inculcating cultural identity and building a child’s personality.
Fatima Sultan Al Mazrouei and author Amira Ali Bukdara will lead two separate storytelling sessions while Aisha Al Bulushi and Fatima Alamri will hold a ‘Dolls from the UAE’ workshop and share the skills of making eye-catching dolls.
Sharjah Translation Award ‘Turjuman’ in the spotlight on Day 4
The vital role of Sharjah Translation Award ‘Turjuman’ in promoting Arab culture and supporting Arabic books worldwide will be spotlighted in a session presented by Dr.Isabella Camera d’Afflitto, Italian academic and translator.
Authors Dubai Abulhoul and David Morosinoto will discuss the idea of developing curricula for writing contemporary science fiction in Arabic and Italian.
At an international school, Maryam Al Binali will lead a workshop titled, ‘Various characters’, to teach participants to use basic shapes such as squares, circles and triangles to create new characters.