Dubai: Sharjah will highlight the rich and vibrant legacy of Emirati and Arab literature and leading discussions on the current and future challenges impacting the global publishing sector at the 49th London Book Fair (LBF) where the emirate is being honoured as ‘Market Focus’, becoming the first representative of an Arab country to receive this honour.
The 2022 edition of LBF runs from April 5 – 7 at Olympia London (Olympia Exhibition Centre).
Eminent authors, intellectuals
As part of Sharjah’s Market Focus programme, eminent authors and intellectuals including Omar Saif Ghobash, author and Assistant Minister of Public and Cultural Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation; Mohammad Al Murr, author and Chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library Foundation; Dr Abdulaziz Al Musallam, novelist, writer, and Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage; author Dubai Abulhoul; award-winning poet and researcher Khalid AlBudoor; and Emirati spoken word poet Dr. Afra Atiq, will lead a robust programming agenda of 15 discussion panels, workshops and poetry recital sessions designed to highlight the thriving cultural heritage of the UAE.
Khawla Al Mujaini, Director of Exhibitions and Festivals at Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), and general coordinator of Sharjah’s Market Focus programme at LBF, emphasised that the Authority has designed a cultural agenda that will serve as a bridge between Arab and European cultures and showcase the Emirati literature 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 cross-cultural cooperation with nations around the world.
Spotlight on rich literary traditions of Arab world on Day 1
At the Literary Translation Centre, in conversation with David Coding, Omar Ghobash will discuss his journey in writing and the transition from non-fiction to fiction while also highlighting the importance of translating Arabic titles to make them accessible to a broader readership.
Academic and researcher Sinead Murphy will host two discussions at the English PEN Literary Salon. The conversation with Dr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam will focus on the unique storytelling traditions of the UAE, while the session with Mohammad Al Murr will explore the changing literary landscape of the UAE and the relationship between modern Emirati writing and its rich literary heritage.
SBA will organise a panel discussion titled, ‘The Why and the How’ on the Sharjah International Book Fair Publishers Conference and the Sharjah Translation Grant at the Sharjah Market Focus pavilion.
At the same venue, Eman Mohamed, Programs and Award Executive, UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) will moderate a discussion titled ‘Healing with Bibliotherapy’ with Ella Berthoud, bibliotherapist at the international School of Life, to offer insights into a unique creative arts therapy.
In ‘Tales of the Emirates: People, Poetry and Fantasy’ hosted at the British Library, SBA will bring together Dr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Dubai Abulhoul and Mohammad Al Murr to highlight the rich literary forms of the Gulf region and introduce some of the written and spoken traditions of the region.
Poetry and women’s literature in focus on Day 2
In a Sharjah Market Focus panel discussion held on the main stage under the title ‘The Future of Book Supply’, Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority and David Taylor from UK-based Ingram Content Group will discuss the future of the supply chain and print on demand with examples of what is being showcased at Sharjah Publishing City (SPC) Free Zone. The session will be moderated by Porter Anderson from Publishing Perspectives.
The Sharjah Market Focus pavilion will host two sessions. The discussion, ‘Emirati Women Writers, Shaping the Country’s Literary Scene’, will be led by Dr. Afra Atiq and Dubai Abulhoul, who will share their personal experiences as Emirati writers while the second session hosted by Knowledge Without Borders (KwB) will discuss the importance of reading and its role in advancing societies through cultural awareness. The KwB session, moderated by Mariam AlHammadi, Manager, will feature Julia Brizi della Rosa, author and founder of Atellier.
The Market Focus ‘Author of the Day’ session will spotlight Dr. Afra Atiq who will discuss her blend of bilingual and trilingual poems in English, Arabic and French. The Emirati poet and spoken word artist will be in conversation with British poet, playwright and author, Joelle Taylor.
Dive into translation, folklore, and calligraphy on Day 3
Leading a discussion on ‘Arabic and English Translation: Trends and Possibilities’ at the Literary Translation Centre are Omar Ghobash; Marilyn Robinson, Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, Oriental Institute, Magdalen College, UK; and Nariman Youssef, Arabic Translation Manager at the British Library. The panel will discuss the potential for raising awareness of Arabic literature in translation and the possibilities that exist for authors, translators and publishers looking to reach new audiences. The session, hosted at the Literary Translation Centre, will be moderated by Will Mackie, Senior Programme Manager, New Writing North.
The two sessions at the English PEN Literary Salon will feature Khalid AlBudoor who will share his journey and experience in the UAE’s oral heritage including Nabati poetry, traditional music, and storytelling, while Dubai Abulhoul, who recently published a series of six children’s books that introduce key figures of Emirati folklore to younger generations, will discuss with author Tamara MacFarlane what these traditional stories have to offer readers today.
The Arab British Centre will organise a poetry recital evening featuring Emirati poets, Khalid Al Budoor and Dr. Afra Atiq, while in a session hosted by the Sharjah Department of Culture, Emirati calligrapher Khalid Al Jallaf will provide a historic overview of Arabic calligraphy and its resurgence as an art form in the Sharjah and the UAE in recent times.
During its participation at LBF, Sharjah is showcasing the achievements of different cultural entities and initiatives that represent the emirate’s vision to promote the book industry and enrich the cultural movement in the UAE and the Arab world.
Participating entities at the Sharjah Market Focus pavilion include the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), the entity that is overseeing Sharjah’s Market Focus programme agenda, Emirates Writers Union (EWU), Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (SBA), Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), Sharjah Publishing City (SPC) Free Zone, Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi Centre, Al Qasimi Publications, Sharjah Department of Culture, Sharjah Institute for Heritage, UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), University of Sharjah, Kalimat Group, House of Wisdom (HoW), Knowledge without Borders (KwB) and the 1001 Titles initiative.