Guest of Honor Sharjah to highlight UAE, Arab cultures at Moscow International Book Fair


The SHarjah pavilion at the Moscow International Book Fair (WAM)

The Sharjah pavilion at the Moscow International Book Fair (WAM)

By Habib Toumi

Sharjah: Sharjah, one of the seven emirates making up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is all set for its breakthrough participation as the Special Guest of Honor in the 32nd Moscow International Book Fair (MIBF 2019).

In April, Sharjah was announced as the first Special Guest of Honor as well as the UAE’s and the Arab world’s cultural ambassador for the duration of the annual fair.

Under this status, it will have a Sharjah Pavilion where seminars and workshops will be held to celebrate the region’s culture and heritage.

According to the UAE news agency WAM, a packed program has been planned by Sharjah for the international fair in the Russian capital on September 4-8.

The emirate will showcase 59 first-edition Russian language translations of books written by Emirati and Arab authors and enhance the visitors’ understanding of Sharjah’s achievements in promoting books, publishing and culture.

It will host 15 panel discussions by more than 35 Emirati and Russian authors and intellectuals and more than 10 local publishers and cultural entities.

Visitors will also enjoy vibrant folk performances featuring traditional Emirati songs and dances, local arts and crafts, and more, WAM news agency reported.

One of the numerous monuments in Sharjah (WAM)

One of the numerous monuments in Sharjah (WAM)

This is the first time an Arab city has been awarded special cultural status by the MIBF. The promotion of Emirati culture and the UAE’s intellectual products internationally are part of Sharjah’s strategic goals as the UNESCO World Book Capital 2019.

Shaikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Department of Government Relations, DGR, who will be leading the Sharjah delegation to Moscow, noted that the invitation to be a “Guest City” is another accomplishment in reinforcing ties.

“Fostering close relations with cities is a must, and strong cultural exchange facilitates the promotion of bilateral relations in other sectorsm: he said.

“Therefore, Sharjah’s four-decade cultural project is a significant development component – an enhancer in our relations with Moscow and other cities around the world. We look forward to bringing Sharjah’s cultural project to Russia and learn from their cultural expertise too. The fair will be a great platform to explore Moscow’s more recent achievements, their history and sustainable practices, and reinforce the partnership between Sharjah and Moscow.”

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority said that Sharjah’s “Guest City” nomination at one of the world’s leading cultural events reaffirms the emirate’s status as a cultural hub, both at regional and international levels.

“The Emirate of Sharjah was able to establish itself as a cultural destination four decades ago, through an inclusive cultural project that was launched by H.H. Dr. Shaikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah,” he said.

The emirate has been nurturing authors, intellectuals and artists throughout its long history, he added.

“These efforts are augmented by our regular large-scale participation in international events, and now we are the first city from the region to be selected as ‘Guest City’ at Russia’s largest book fair. We are delighted to be reaping the fruits of Sharjah’s efforts, which have gone into shaping our distinct cultural identity and prestigious stature,” he said.

In April, Vladimir V Grigoriev, from the Moscow International Book Fair expressed pride to host Sharjah, as a special guest of honour at MIBF this year, stressing that it is the same year that the world is celebrating the emirate as the UNESCO World Book Capital.

“Sharjah will be our window, not only to Emirati, but also to Arab culture. The book fair will be a great platform for promoting cultural exchange and co-operation between our two countries,” he said.

“There are half a billion people native Arabic speakers in the world, and we are very interested in the language and the culture that birthed it. Today, Muslims account for 20 per cent of the Russian community, where 50 cultures live underneath the diverse Russian culture.”

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