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50 days to inaugural of Sharjah as World Book Capital

In 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 vibrant line-up of book-related events across the UAE will be unveiled during a grand inaugural on April 23, 2019 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, apart from 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 & Youth, Raising Awareness, and Developing Publishing Industries.

Through these, the emirate seeks to foster a vibrant culture of reading in the UAE community, instil a sense of belonging to knowledge and to books, and turn reading into a daily activity, practiced especially by children and young adults. Through this yearlong 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.

Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Head of the Advisory Committee of Sharjah World Book Capital 2019, pointed out that the Unesco World Book Capital 2019 is a golden testament to the global recognition Sharjah has acquired as a result of 40 years of concerted efforts led by the vision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed 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.” 

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.

Since 2001, the World Book Capital’s international Committee, which comprises representatives from the International Publishers Association (IPA), International Booksellers Federation (IBF) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), receives and evaluates entries submitted by world cities to select the World Book Capital for a one-year period.