His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, visited the London Book Fair. He toured the fair’s various stalls and visited the Sharjah pavilion organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA). Image Credit: WAM

London: His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, on Wednesday visited the London Book Fair, which runs until Thursday.

He toured the fair’s various stalls and visited the Sharjah pavilion organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA).

“The cultural work requires perseverance, patience and diligence, and must be based on solid grounds to achieve sustainability,” Dr Shaikh Sultan told journalists during a meeting held on the sidelines of Sharjah’s participation at the three-day global book event.

He highlighted the emirate’s enormous efforts and pioneering initiatives to serve intellectuals and develop the cultural landscape over the past 40 years through several cultural institutions, events and festivals.

Dr Shaikh Sultan said Sharjah’s cultural achievements earned it the title World Book Capital for 2019.

“The success of Sharjah is a success for the entire Arab world, fulfilling messages of cultural cohesion and competence.”

He said Sharjah applied eight times before winning the Unesco recognition adding that concerted and determined efforts must be made to succeed.

Dr Shaikh Sultan underlined the need for Arab ministries of culture to thrive by appointing well-informed ministers, and allocating appropriate budgets to support social and cultural growth.

He praised the UAE’s cultural sector, which is taking a steady steps towards the right direction, by providing human cadres and advanced urban facilities that contribute towards its advancement.

He urged writers in general and journalists in particular to take care of the selection of the topics they address, where their writings should be based on documented scientific facts, adding that there is no objection on expressing opinions, which must not be imposed upon the reader as if it is the absolute truth.

Later in the day, the Ruler of Sharjah witnessed the announcement of the 365-day cultural event programme that Sharjah will roll out to celebrate its prestigious Unesco World Book Capital title for 2019. The programme was announced on the sidelines of the London Book Fair, in the presence of Shaikha Bodoor Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Head of the Advisory Committee of Sharjah World Book Capital 2019.

The schedule of the massive literary and book-themed celebrations that will take place across Sharjah, beginning on April 23, was shared with participants at the London fair.

The programme also celebrates Sharjah as the first city in the Gulf region, third in the Arab world, and 19th globally, to hold this important global title.

Dr Shaikh Sultan was briefed on the six themes classified for the event: Unifying Communities, Fostering Knowledge, Honouring Heritage, Empowering Children and Youth, Raising Awareness and Developing Publishing Industries.

Through these themes, Sharjah aims to nurture a culture of reading, and turn it into a daily practice for all community members, with emphasis upon children and youth.

Through these themes and activities, the emirate seeks to empower the publishing sector, highlighting the importance of heritage as a source of knowledge and wealth for people, and keeping Arab and Emirati history alive through the transfer of heritage for the younger generations.

Sharjah World Book Capital 2019, has started promoting the year-long activities by setting up library pop-ups on Sharjah beaches to bring the UAE community closer to books.

Later, Dr Shaikh Sultan attended the launch of a ‘Best Arabic Silent Book’ category by the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, which aims to promote the production of more high quality wordless picture books genre in the Arab world.

Shaikha Bodoor, who is also the vice president of International Publishers Association (IPA), founder and President of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) was also present.