‘Accessing knowledge in books still a challenge’ - GulfToday

‘Accessing knowledge in books still a challenge’


Kerry highlighted his memoir “Every Day Is Extra” at the Abu Dhabi Book Fair.

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about his acclaimed memoir ‘Every Day Is Extra’ on the first day of the 29th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF), held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of  the UAE Armed Forces.

His talk on the Main Stage was attended by Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, along with other dignitaries including Noura Bint Monhammed Al Kaabi, Minister for Culture and Knowledge Development, and Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).

Kerry was a US senator for nearly three decades, Secretary of State for four years under the Barack Obama administration, and a former presidential candidate in 2004 against George W. Bush.

His talk was held in conversation with Dr Zaki Nusseibeh, Minister of State in the UAE. Afterwards Kerry signed copies of his book for fans at the book signing area of the Fair.

Kerry said he was impressed by ADIBF and the UAE. “There is knowledge in all of these books,” Kerry said. “More people have to get to that knowledge, read and go to school. That is still a challenge.

“But we are on the road of progress today, if you look at Abu Dhabi and the Burj Khalifa, everywhere was sand. But now you have roads, the infrastructure, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and it is extraordinary what is happening here.”

Kerry said the book is a reflection of an attitude that the men who served with him in the Vietnam War and came back with because they were “the lucky ones.”

“If you have been in war, you know that any bullet, bomb or mortar, could be for anybody at any moment in time,” he said. “You simply waited to be ambushed and we were constantly being ambushed. When I left [Vietnam],  my boat had about 160 holes in it, three of which were very close to my head, so you gain a respect for the randomness of, not just war, but of life.”

Kerry spoke of “complicated times” we are currently living in, especially as social media and the internet allowed false information to move around the world at a rapid pace. “It is a difficult time,” he said. “It  is much harder in today’s world for leaders to be able to persuade their people of basic facts.”

Every Day Is Extra, published by Simon & Schuster in 2018, details the US relations with a number of major powers and countries, including those in the Middle East. It highlights Kerry’s efforts against the  proliferation of nuclear weapons, in the fight against extremism, challenges within the humanitarian sphere and the battle against climate change.

The 29th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, organised by Abu Dhabi, hosts over 1,000 publishers from more than 50 countries, showcasing more than 500,000 books. India is featured as this year’s official Guest of Honour at the event, which runs from 24 to 30 April at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec).

The Department of Culture and Tourism conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction that enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike. The Department manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment.

Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.  The Department of Culture and Tourism  supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage. A key role played by the Department is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.

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