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Sharjah: In less than 50 days, the UAE will witness Sharjah officially inaugurating a 365-day programme to celebrate the World Book Capital title, which it brought home last year.

Sharjah is the first city in the Gulf region, third in the Arab world (after Beirut and Alexandria) and 19th globally to hold this prestigious title launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 2011.

Sharjah has completed most of the preparations aimed at bringing this big cultural celebration, themed ‘Open Books. Open Minds’, to life. A line-up of book-related events across the UAE will be unveiled during a grand inaugural on April 23 in Sharjah, including book readings, seminars and conferences, workshops and competitions, activities for adults and kids, and round table discussions with local and foreign authors.

The programme will run from April 23, 2019, to April 22, 2020, engaging book lovers of all age groups, interests and cultural backgrounds.

A large number of Arab and international creative novelists, poets and playwrights, as well as intellectuals, journalists and media representatives will be participating in the celebrations crafted under SWBC 2019’s six guiding principles: Unifying Communities, Fostering Knowledge, Honouring Heritage, Empowering Children and Youth, Raising Awareness, and Developing Publishing Industries.

Also, through this year-long celebration of books, reading and knowledge development, Sharjah seeks to highlight the importance of protecting the nation’s heritage illustrated in Emirati and Arabic novels, by passing it down to future generations.

Shaikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Head of the Advisory Committee of Sharjah World Book Capital 2019, said the Unesco World Book Capital 2019 is a testament to the global recognition Sharjah has acquired as a result of 40 years of concerted efforts lead by the vision of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.

She added: “April 23 will mark the beginning of a new chapter in Sharjah’s pioneering achievements and efforts to host leading cultural events and initiatives locally, regionally and globally. The event will offer a gateway to all 200 nationalities residing in the UAE to explore various sources of knowledge and culture. It will also be a unique platform for intellectuals, authors, publishers and artists to showcase their creativity and contribute to highlighting the irreplaceable value of books in promoting dialogue and empathy among civilisations around the world.”