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UK demonstrates mastery of regional affairs
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SHARJAH: As the guest of honour of the 36th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), the British could not have had a better platform to demonstrate their appreciation of the Middle East and North Africa affairs, at least going by the books showcased at the country’s stand.

The stand is hosting numerous agencies exhibiting varied items of interest for guests fond of or connected to the Middle East and North Africa.

Explaining the works of the library he represents, Bill Kennedy, a Director of Avicenna and a representative of Gingko Library, says, “Gingko Library is committed to creating a better understanding between the West and the Middle East, North Africa and West Asia.

“It was founded in 2014, with the aim of achieving this objective through an annual conference and lectures, an ambitious publication and translation programme, and intercultural projects and events.”

He says the aforementioned objective is “clearly spelt out in Gingko’s publications” such as their forthcoming titles that include The Architectural Heritage of Yemen, Christmas and the Quran, and The Mercantile Effect: art and exchange in the Islamicate World between the C17th and C18th.

He says he has been “attending SIBF for the last eight to ten years, and I have always found it enjoyable, productive and interesting.”

Many representatives of the different agencies at the UK stand said the SIBF had made an impression on them.

Eliza Kavanagh, of the Publishers Association, says she is impressed by “the so many activities here” and “seeing people actively engaged.”

Similarly, Jade Robertson, an International Publishing Director of Austin Macauley Publishers, says the linkage between SIBF and the UK shall see the publishing house exporting Arabic books to the UK and New York to cater to the “growing audience of Arabic speakers in the two localities.”

The exhibitors are participating in SIBF in tandem with the objectives of the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration, which is premised on employing culture in its broadest sense – including the arts and literature, sport and education, science, technology and business – to foster understanding between the two nations as well as strengthen cultural and economic ties.

As a guest of honour, the UK is showcasing, among other contemporary British literature, the Birmingham Quran manuscript. The Quran, which is a considered a global treasure, is currently held at the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library.

Other exhibitors at the UK stand include the British Department for International Trade, London Region, European Regional Development Fund, Global Growth Project, and the European Union.

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