LONDON: The Sharjah World Book Capital Office (SWBC Office) organised a special reception at the 48th edition of the London Book Fair (LBF) to shed light on Sharjah’s key cultural achievements and how these efforts drove the emirate’s election as the 19th World Book Capital City — a global title launched by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 2001.
Attendees were introduced to Sharjah’s most significant cultural achievements and were taken through the 365-day cultural programme that SWBC Office has designed to celebrate the prestigious title, under the unique theme ‘Open Books. Open Minds’.
The year-long celebrations, starting April 23, 2019, will be held across different locations in Sharjah and will engage all segments of the UAE community as well as Emirati, Arab and international literary figures and intellectuals, in a series of book-themed events and activities.
SWBC Office has set an interactive platform to promote one of this year’s planned initiatives — Mobile Beach Libraries — which will be established in cooperation with Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Sharjah Ladies Club (SLC), Knowledge Without Borders (KwB) and Sharjah Municipality.
Amani Al Ali, Director of Sharjah World Book Capital Office, pointed out that educating British and international intellectuals about the SWBC 2019 celebrations and ongoing preparations was an opportunity to invite the whole world to participate in the festivities. She stressed that the LBF offered SWBC a global platform to promote plans and programmes that will be implemented in the future.
Al Ali said: “Through our participation at LBF, we have been able to introduce European and global communities to Sharjah’s cultural accomplishments over the past 40 years and its ongoing efforts to promote the beauty of the authentic Emirati and Arab culture”.
She added, “Our participation serves as a bridge that connects us to international cultural entities, publishers, authors, intellectuals and academia. It contributes to enhancing mutual collaboration for future cultural programmes and events.”
Since 2001, the World Book Capital’s International Committee nominates a World Book Capital City for a one-year period. The committee at Unesco named Sharjah the World Book Capital 2019 in appreciation of its vital role in supporting books, promoting reading and adopting knowledge in cross-cultural communication. Sharjah was also recognised for its great efforts to foster reading as a robust culture at the regional and international levels. Sharjah is the first city in the GCC countries and the third in the Arab world and Middle East to win this nomination after Alexandria and Beirut.
Sharjah Publishing City
Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) also showcased Sharjah’s cultural project and key initiatives aimed at enhancing the local publishing industry, and its efforts to celebrate Emirati literature at international book fairs.
SBA showcased its first flagship initiative, Sharjah Publishing City (SPC), which is the world’s first publishing and printing free zone, highlighting the plethora of premium services and commercial advantages its offers to publishers, authors and other literary professionals from around the world.
Ahmad bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, stressed Sharjah’s keenness to participate in key cultural events worldwide, pointing out that it contributes to strengthening cultural understanding through active dialogue, in addition to promoting Emirati and Arab culture and its achievements.
Al Ameri said: “SBA has returned to the London Book Fair, again this year, to reinforce the vision of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to build and strengthen our bridges of cultural communication around the world. We seek to promote the fundamentals that Sharjah utilises to promote its cultural project, which highlights the instrumental role of books in fostering knowledge in people, broadening their horizons and opening a window for dialogue, particularly now, ahead of unveiling our grand World Book Capital celebrations in April.”
“Through all our local and international participations, we present Sharjah’s unique cultural journey, that has flourished and expanded beyond the Gulf to establish itself as a global hub. Here in London, which is the publishing capital of the world, we are keen to introduce British and international publishers, as well as book experts to Sharjah’s efforts in growing our local and regional publishing sector, and its specific efforts to boost up the new translations movement, which will offer a much needed impetus to cross-cultural exchange and the convergence of European and Arab cultures,” he added.
Sharjah’s pavilion at the event introduced the efforts of the Al Qasimi Publications, Department of Culture in Sharjah, UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), Kalimat Group and Dr Sultan Al Qasimi Centre of Gulf Studies.
Ruler of Sharjah establishes Al Qasimi Publications
His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has issued an Emiri Decree on the establishment of Al Qasimi Publications Publishing House.
Decree No. 09 of 2019 stipulates that Al Qasimi Publications enjoys full independence with financial and administrative autonomy, corporate personality, and legal capacity necessary to undertake legal actions that ensure the achievement of its objectives, and is organised on a non-profit basis.
The publishing house will be headquartered in Sharjah, and may upon the approval of the owner, establish a branch or branches in the other cities.
Pursuant to the new Emiri Decree, Al Qasimi Publications aims to publish and distribute various new scientific, literary, cultural publications, promoting paper-based publications and the electronic publications. It also aims to support humanitarian and charitable institutions.
Article V of the decree states that Al Qasimi Publications will have the following competencies: publishing and distributing works and publications in line with Al Qasimi Publications’ objectives, and will be approved by the owner and be promoted; conducting contracts, agreements, Memorandums of Understanding and partnerships; cooperation and coordination with local, regional and international bodies concerned with publishing and distribution; organising and participating in exhibitions, conferences and events locally, regionally and internationally, in coordination with the concerned authorities; as well as any other competencies assigned to it by its owner.
The director of Al Qasimi Publications will be appointed by a decision of the owner, who sets out his post, duties, and powers, and will be assisted by a number of administrative and technical staff.
The revenues of the publishing house are allocated to support humanitarian and charitable entities and institutions that are determined by its owner.
The decree will be effective from the date of its issuance and other competent authorities should implement its provisions each in its respective field. It will be published in the Official Gazette.