Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi touring 'Sharjah International Narrator Forum' at Expo Centre Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The Emirati tradition of oral storytelling is being highlighted among other regional forms during the three-day Sharjah International Narrator Forum (SINF), which began on Wednesday at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council (SMC), inaugurated the annual event’s 21st edition. The latest edition, organised by the Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH), is being held until Friday under the slogan ‘Animal Stories’.

Upon his arrival, Sheikh Sultan was received Sheikh Majid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Director of the Districts and Villages Affairs Department; Abdullah Al Owais, Chairman of Sharjah Department of Culture (SDC); and Dr Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, Chairman of SIH and Chairman of the Higher Organising Committee of the Forum; alongside other senior officials from government departments and cultural organisations.

‘Living human treasures’

During a tour of the forum, Sheikh Sultan listened to a presentation on SINF and its role in strengthening the position of the narrator in society. He also met with the participants and discussed the importance of continuing the preservation of narrators as “living human treasures” who carry within them the spirit of stories and hopes.

Dr Al Musallam said SINF offers a cultural journey during which heritages from around the world can be explored. He added that several new events have been added to the forum.

The new session of the forum includes seminars, lectures and sessions that review important approaches to animal stories, with the participation of a group of researchers and writers from more than 38 countries including the UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

Dr Al Musallam said SIH continues to strive to develop this forum in various fields, with a special focus on highlighting the importance of oral heritage.

Dr Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, Chairman of Sharjah Institute of Heritage, addressing the forum on Wednesday Image Credit: Supplied

Honourable mentions

The Republic of Sudan is the country-in-focus this year and will be represented by Dr Ahmed Abdel Rahim Nasr, the personality of the year in recognition of his contributions to Arab heritage. The Tunisian storyteller Abdel Aziz Laroui will also be honored in celebration of his rich storytelling legacy.

Selection of Emirati and Arab artists

A group of Emirati and Arab artists will participate in the forum, most notably the artist Dr Yahya Al Fakhrani, as well as Hala Fakher from Egypt, Muhammad Yassin from Bahrain, Sana Bakr Younis from Saudi Arabia, and Dr Habib Ghuloom and Jassim Obaid from the UAE.

Animal story exhibition

This year’s forum will be accompanied by an exhibition on animal stories in the Emirati, Arab and world heritage, in addition to more than 30 different titles from the publications of SIH. There will also be 16 workshops.

This year’s edition includes a set of virtual events broadcast remotely, including some cultural café seminars, storytelling sessions, as well as live transmission of the forum in some Arab countries via the internet and social media platforms.