Cultural Square in Sharjah
Cultural Square in Sharjah Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: South Korea is turning the spotlight on Emirati culture and literature with Sharjah as Guest of Honour (GoH) at the upcoming Seoul International Book Fair.

Running June 14 to 18, the emirate’s cultural showcase in Seoul is led by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA).

An agenda of 33 events curated by SBA alongside 12 cultural entities, 11 Emirati writers, intellectuals and academics will unfold at the Sharjah pavilion — all designed to strengthen bonds between Emiratis and South Koreans by enabling the latter better understanding of the UAE’s and the region’s Arabic language, literature, art and culture.

By leading the GoH programme at SIBF this year, Sharjah seeks to continue to strategically bolster the global presence and popularity of Emirati and Arab cultures, and create fresh opportunities for literary and business exchanges with a focus on Arabic-Korean translations.

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‘Nothing surpasses culture’

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Chairperson of SBA, said: “Nothing surpasses the role of culture in forging connections between cities and nations. This interaction has left an indelible mark on the languages, customs, traditions, and collective wisdom of each culture involved. Celebrating Sharjah represents a great opportunity for the Emirati cultural movement to strengthen cultural bridges with its Korean counterpart, and it is important to appreciate the volume of knowledge, literature, and arts translated from Korean into Arabic, and vice versa.”

sheikha bodour
Archive image of Sheikha Bodour Image Credit: Supplied

She added: “Today, our mission is to learn from our ancestors; Arab and Muslim scholars and writers; who travelled to various countries, documented their experiences, translated their literature and sciences, and contributed to our own renaissance. The influence of their work continues to illuminate the world to this day.”

GoH programme

The Guest of Honour programme encompasses a wide range of topics in literature, poetry, heritage, and art. The agenda includes a session by PublisHer - an international movement launched by Sheikha Bodour to address the gaps in female representation and leadership in global publishing. The discussion will focus on women’s role in the South Korean publishing industry.

The Sharjah pavilion will host poetry readings, bringing together female poets from the UAE and South Korea. Various other events spanning calligraphy workshops, literary talks, discussions on folktale heritage, fine arts gatherings, translations and the realities of women’s literature, will take place to enable participants from both sides develop a stronger understanding of their cultural similarities and differences.

Rendering of the Sharjah pavilion coming up at the book fair in Seoul Image Credit: Supplied

The emirate’s participation in the book fair provides a unique opportunity for intellectuals and researchers to explore the potential for enhancing Arab-Korean cultural relations. The workshops will cover diverse topics like digital arts, converting Emirati and Korean folk poetry into written anthologies, and comparing printing techniques. Moreover, traditional performances will present the richness of Emirati heritage to the visitors of the book fair.

Guest speakers

The Sharjah-led discussions and workshops will see the participation of leading Emirati intellectuals, academics, authors, poets, and journalists, including author Sultan Al Amimi, Chairman of the Emirates Writers Union; poets Kholoud Al Mualla, Najat Al Dhaheri, and Dr Aisha Al Shamsi; author Asma Al Hamadi; journalist Aisha Sultan; author and poet Shaikha Al Jabri; authors Dr Badia Al Hashemi and Dubai Abulhoul; Eisa Yousif, Director of Archaeology Department at Sharjah Archaeology Authority, and researcher Ali Al Abdan.

Participating entities

The cultural delegation led by SBA includes Sharjah’s Government Relations Department, Emirates Writers Union, Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, Sharjah Institute for Heritage, Emirates Publishers Association, Emirates Reprographic Rights Management Association, Sharjah Archaeology Authority, the UAE Board on Books for Young People, Kalimat Group, House of Wisdom, Sharjah Department of Culture, and Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.