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Al Owais Cultural Foundation Celebrates Abdul Ghaffar Hussein’s New Book: “Books and Authors- Selected Readings”

شخصيات ثقافية وفكرية في مقدمة الحضور

The Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation has hosted a book signing event for novelist Abdul Ghaffar Hussein’s new book, Kutub wa Kuttab- Qira’at Mukhtara (Books and Authors- Selected Readings), which was recently released by the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation.. The event, which took place at 9:30pm on Saturday, April 23, 2022, was attended by a large number of writers, intellectuals and culture enthusiasts and included a lively discussion about Hussein’s new book; considered to be the first installment of an upcoming book series with the same theme.

The book signing event was attended by HE Mohammed Ahmed Al Murr, Chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library Foundation; HE Bilal Al Budoor, General Secretary of the Cultural and Scientific Association; HE Advisor Dr. Arif Al Sheikh; Dr. Salah Al Qasim and Mr. Tha’en Shahine, Advisors at Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Dr. Fatima Al Sayegh; Member of the Board of Trustees of the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation; in addition to a great number of prominent cultural personalities, authors and writers, whose books were reviewed by Hussein in his new book Kutub wa Kuttab- Qira’at Mukhtara (Books and Authors- Selected Readings).

At the beginning of the event, HE Abdul Hamid Ahmed, Secretary General of the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation, welcomed the audience and said that author Abdul Ghaffar Hussein is one of the icons of culture and social work and that his new book is the result of his careful reading of several books of various themes that were published at different points in time. Moreover, HE Abdul Hamid Ahmed pointed out that the author had worked in Dubai Municipality and co-founded “Akhbar Dubai” magazine, in addition to helping establish the Emirates Writers’ Union and the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Award, describing him as “a contemporary of many prominent political, economic, and social figures”.

Speaking about his book, author Abdul Ghaffar Hussein said: “I try not to be a casual reader, as I discuss the ideas contained in the books I have reviewed, especially the ones about the UAE or those published in the UAE. I also try to be objective because I have witnessed firsthand the great transformations that the UAE has undergone since the 1960s.” Moreover, the author pointed out that his book sheds light on 150 books from different genres that cover various topics. Among the reviewed books are 60 books by Emirati authors, which constitute more than one third of the books reviewed by the author, reflecting the current boom in the fields of writing and publishing in the UAE, which is en par with the publishing movement in the Arab region.

Furthermore, Abdul Ghaffar Hussein touched upon a number of issues and situations that he has encountered with the authors and stressed the noteworthy effort made by any author in writing his/her book, which deserves appreciation and recognition on our part. He also highlighted the importance of generating a positive discussion of the book at hand to make it more accessible to the reader. On the other hand, Hussein talked about writing poetry at the beginning of his literary career and other fond memories that he hopes to document someday.

Next, a rich discussion ensued between Hussein and the audience, in which Dr. Saeed Harib expressed hope that Hussein documents all his precious memories as they reflect the great transformations that took place in Dubai over the years. Moreover, HE Mohammed Al Murr stressed the importance of reviewing books and its impact on cultural life, saying that it is a known tradition in journalism, and described it as a journey that begins when the book arrives at the publishing house, where it is reviewed and introduced to reader in a clever way that encourages it to gain wide readership. Al Murr also pointed out to the rich experience of Al Bayan newspaper in the field of reviewing books through the “Bayan Al Kutub” supplement, which used to come out with the newspaper.  On the other hand, Dr. Rafee’a Ghobash demanded that an encyclopedia be compiled to include all the writers who have enriched cultural life in the UAE, to study the lives of those who have contributed to the development of UAE society with their knowledge; hoping to make use of Abdul Ghaffar Hussein’s experience in this field.

Next, author Abdul Ghaffar Hussein signed tens of copies of his new book for the audience and group photos were taken of the author and all the authors he includes in his book.

It is worth mentioning that the new book comes in 842 medium-cut pages, and the cover showcases a painting from the author’s personal collection. The first section was artistically supervised by artist Mohammed Fahmi, while the material was compiled by Injy Al Awni and executed by Ahmed Abu Zeid.

In his book, Abdul Ghaffar Hussein not only reviews the books but also attaches the name and photo of the author along with a short bio and a picture of the original book cover. In some reviews, he adds a photo of the dedication page that includes the signatures of the authors and various dates that give the reader clues about the date and place of publication of the book. The dedication page has always been a cherished memory for the reader. At the conclusion of each review, author Abdul Ghaffar Hussein puts down the title of the published article as well as the name and date of publication.

The final pages of the book include a number of testimonials about the author lead by a quote by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, in which His Highness says: “The contributions of Abdul Ghaffar Hussein enrich the cultural movement”. In addition, the book also includes testimonials by Abdullah Al Madani, Bilal Al Budoor, Khalaf Al Habtoor, Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, Hanif Al Qasim, Dr. Saeed Harib and Dr. Abdul Khaliq Abdullah.

In addition, the book includes two prefaces; one by Abdul Ghaffar Hussein and the other by Mr. Mohammed Obaid Ghobash, in which he writes: “Abdul Ghaffar Hussein is one of a few multidisciplinary authors who are always on a quest to gain knowledge. This encyclopedic approach to culture is rarely seen in intellectuals who often resort to one specialized field where they feel comfortable, hence they are missing a great deal about other fields of knowledge. However, Abdul Ghaffar Hussein is not one of these, as he rarely seen without a book in his hand or at his worktable. Armed with a great command of classical Arabic, he is is capable of understanding obscure words that are no longer in use, hence he effortlessly delves into archaic books. With his fluency in English and Farsi, not a day passes without him browsing through a recently published book that reveals historical secrets for the first time, a circular that publishes political articles or an internet website that gives important information about planting and gardening. An avid listener to experts in various fields, he listens, asks and follows up and this spirit with its unquenchable thirst for knowledge is reflected everywhere in this book.”

The final section of the new book sheds light on the professional and personal biography of Abdul Ghaffar Hussein, and includes the positions he held and the great contributions he made to public life in general and to culture specifically; as he chaired the Emirates Writers Union, cofounded the first public library in Dubai and “Akhbar Dubai” magazine. He also helped established the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Award and was Chairman of its Board of Trustees for 16 years, in addition to his many contributions in the field of writing and publishing, as he has authored 12 books that highlight various topics.