Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi addressing the opening ceremony of 40th Sharjah International Book Fair at Expo Centre Sharjah on Tuesday. Image Credit: Faisal Masudi/Gulf News

Sharjah: In what is being billed as one of the greatest works of literature, the first edition of the Historical Dictionary of the Arabic Language was launched in Sharjah on Tuesday.

The dictionary, which has involved some 300 researchers spread across several countries, was launched by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, during the opening ceremony of the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Dr Sheikh Sultan has personally funded and followed up on the project to publish the dictionary, which will have more editions in the years to come.

Enormous endeavour

The project covers around 17 centuries worth of usage of Arabic words. It has originally been in the works for decades, attempted by various individuals and institutions and suffering several setbacks and suspensions for a variety of reasons.

In 2006, Dr Sheikh Sultan personally took charge of the project to see it to fruition.

Addressing the ceremony, Dr Sheikh Sultan said such a project was missing in the litany of works dedicated to the Arabic language. He said no other endeavour has attracted his attention and love for the Arabic language more than this project.

With support, funds and direction from Sharjah, the project was most recently based in Cairo.

First copy

Dr Sheikh Sultan signed a copy of the first edition during Tuesday’s ceremony and said that in the next few years, tens of volumes of the dictionary will be published. A digital version of the dictionary has also been created, which will be updated as well.

After the ceremony, Dr Sheikh Sultan toured SIBF, which opens to the public on Wednesday at 10am. The free-to-attend fair runs until November 13 at Expo Centre Sharjah.

15 million books to be showcased 

Around 15 million books from some 1,600 publishers are on offer at SIBF. There will also be book signing stations and talks by leading authors and celebrities.

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SIBF has become the biggest book fair in the world in terms of buying and selling of rights, announced Ahmed Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, which organises SIBF, during Tuesday’s ceremony.