A cultural group, which is part of the Sharjah delegation at the New Delhi World Book Fair, performs a traditional Emirati dance during the opening of the fair on Saturday. Image Credit: Supplied

New Delhi: Sharjah was accorded warm hospitality as guest of honour at the 27th New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF 2019) by fair organisers National Book Trust (NBT) at the fair’s opening ceremony on Saturday.

Members of the Sharjah delegation, comprising representatives from entities forming Sharjah’s cultural programme at NDWBF 2019, were represented on stage by Shaikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, executive chairman of the Department of Government Relations, who is heading the delegation.

Also representing were Ahmad Al Ameri, chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), and renowned Emirati author Habib Yousuf Abdullah Al Sayegh.

Ahmad Al Ameri, chairman of Sharjah Book Authority and other members of the Sharjah delegation being honoured in the presence of Prakash Javadekar, India’s Minister for Human Resource Development. Image Credit: Supplied

They were welcomed by senior Indian officials and cultural representatives, including Baldev Bhai Sharma, chairman of NBT; Prakash Javadekar, India’s Union Minister for Human Resource Development; Subramaniam, Secretary, Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development and others.

The guests were felicitated with several NBT publications, mementos and traditional shawls.

English and Hindi translations — published by NBT — of ‘Baby Fatima and the King’s Sons’, one of the most renowned works by His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, was released by the Trust at the opening ceremony and presented to Sharjah.

Shaikh Fahim said: “Being among you all at the New Delhi World Book Fair, a major calendar event in the publishing world, I know we have come a long way in realising the Sharjah Ruler’s vision of bringing cultures together through books and knowledge exchange. I thank National Book Trust for offering us the ‘guest of honour’ privilege, recognising Sharjah’s leading role in the Arab region’s cultural renaissance. We are excited to turn this opportunity into a memorable literary and cultural feast straight from the heart of Sharjah and the UAE, for all of the book fair’s participants and visitors.”

He added: “I am extremely proud to announce that our President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has declared 2019 to be the ‘Year of Tolerance’, which will further embolden our role in promoting multiculturalism as an enabler of stability and prosperity across all nations in the world.”

Sharma said: “We are deeply honoured to welcome this year’s special guest, Sharjah. I thank the honourable senior officials present here on stage as well as the entire Sharjah delegation comprising authors, literary experts, poets and leading cultural entities, to have made their long journey to be part of our celebration of books, culture, and knowledge — the pillars of human development, peace and continued progress.”

He said Sharjah has brought Hindi translations of 57 Arabic language books by Emirati and Arab authors.

Javadekar, meanwhile, emphasised on the importance of book fairs, saying life is incomplete without books and culture. “Reading is integral to human development; something clear in the way Sharjah has been leading their socioeconomic development and community welfare. The real friendship and partnership between India the UAE, Sharjah particularly, is exhibited in the emirate’s participation and our joint effort that has gone into the organisation of this important literary event,” he said.

Running until January 13, the NDWBF 2019 theme is ‘Books for Readers with Special Needs’. Over 1,350 exhibits, 20 countries and 650 publishers, are participating at the fair.