As Guest of Honour, Sharjah will organise creative workshops, panel discussions, storytelling sessions
The UAE flag fluttered high in the historic Italian city of Bologna where Sharjah is being celebrated as Guest of Honour at the 59th Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF), which runs until March 24.
The opening ceremony was held in the presence of Bodour Al Qasimi, President of International Publishers Association (IPA); Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Government Relations (DGR) in Sharjah, who is heading the emirate’s GoH delegation to the book fair; HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA); Matteo Lepore, Mayor of Bologna; and Glanpiero Calzolari, Director of BCBF.
Also attending were Gianpiero Calzolari, President of BolognaFiere; Ricardo Franco Levi, President of the Italian Publishers Association; Maria Maddalena del Grosso, Director of Consumer Products Division at the Italian Trade Agency; Michéle Roberts, Author Ambassador BolognaBookPlus; Elly Schlein, Vice President Emilia-Romagna Region; as well as several diplomats, representatives of global cultural institutions, and literary and artistic personalities from across Europe.
Over the next four days, the emirate’s cultural project founded by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, is being presented by Bologna as a model for cities keen on embracing a knowledge-based development strategy at the BCBF, which is a leading professional event dedicated to the children’s publishing industry.
Sheikh Fahim noted: “I grew up in a small city by the seaside, where a young leader decided to build the city’s values on culture and education. This young leader’s vision created a seismic shift in the Arab world’s impact on publishing. Today, Sharjah is a hub of international publishing, a UNESCO World Book Capital, and has given the International Publishers Association its second female president, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi.”
Talking about the emirate’s 50-year efforts to inculcate the habit of reading in the community, especially amongst children, through its book fair and children’s reading festival, Sheikh Fahim said: “If you’re into something you’re into books, and if you’re into books you’re into Sharjah”.
Highlighting the vital role played by the publishing industry, especially during the pandemic, IPA President Bodour Al Qasimi said: “We were one of the few sources of comfort and security to millions of children and readers in a world that was abruptly thrown into chaos and uncertainty. I am proud of the work publishers have been doing throughout the world to serve their communities and to adapt to rapid change.”
“It’s important we build on this renewed sense of purpose with a unified vision and a clear road map,” added Bodour Al Qasimi, who also highlighted the various initiatives undertaken by IPA to serve stakeholders across the publishing industry.
In his keynote address, Matteo Lepore, Mayor of Bologna, stressed on the power of culture and knowledge in unifying visions and ambitions of cities and countries around the world. He pointed out that Bologna holds great respect for Sharjah and her cultural journey. He added that Bologna was keen on strengthening the cultural relationship and forging new partnerships with Sharjah.
The visiting dignitaries were given a tour of the fair as well had a chance to review the published works of the Ruler of Sharjah, which was translated from Arabic into the Italian language, in addition to other translated titles by the Sharjah Book Authority that are aimed at introducing Italian readers to the creative and literary output of Emirati and Arab authors. The officials were also briefed on the cultural magazines and periodicals issued by institutions across Sharjah, and apprised of its value and appeal for readers in the region.
As Guest of Honour, Sharjah will organise creative workshops, panel discussions, storytelling sessions.
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