An artist's impression of Sharjah’s pavilion at London Book Fair.
The United Kingdom is celebrating the cultural project of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, as Sharjah takes centre stage at The London Book Fair (LBF) 2020, from March 10 – 12, at Olympia, with the leading publishing event’s ‘Market Focus’ title, to be held.
The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) will turn the spotlight on the intellectual and cultural richness of the UAE through the literary and cultural works of 22 Emirati institutions.
As part of Sharjah Market Focus agenda at LBF 2020, the emirate will bring together 12 leading Emirati authors to highlight the pillars of the emirate’s cultural project, and lead seven panel discussions, poetry readings and translation competitions, as well as shine light on Emirati poetry and novels that celebrate local culture and heritage.
On the professional side, the SBA’s programme will share the dynamism of the Arabic-language book market with international audiences, and explore new business opportunities between the UAE and international publishers. SBA is sponsoring the participation of five Emirati publishers in a bid to help them network with their global counterparts to enhance the collaboration opportunities in publishing and translations, and bring them face to face with specialised international institutions in the publishing sector.
Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA said: “Sharjah’s selection as The London Book Fair 2020 Market Focus, is an appreciation of the cultural project of Sheikh Sultan and affirms his vision and message to build bridges with the world to enable a continuous and mutually beneficial exchange of culture, knowledge and creativity. Our cultural and professional agenda for the book fair is poised to open dialogue with UK’s and global audiences, and present Sharjah’s and the UAE’s cultural journey that has flourished and expanded beyond the Gulf.”
“Under SBA’s supervision, Sharjah’s pavilion at the book fair will serve as a platform for local authors, publishers and others in the creative fields to network and lay the foundation for future collaborations with their global counterparts. Our packed agenda of activities will bring together poets, novelists and academics with their British peers, and also allow participating publishers to explore the scope of translations and rights exchange in a variety of foreign languages. We look forward to sharing our local heritage and all its beauty and creativity with the book fair’s visitors.”
Jacks Thomas, Director of The London Book Fair, said: “We are delighted to welcome such an interesting group of writers to this year’s London Book Fair and extend our thanks to partners at the British Council and the Sharjah Book Authority for coordinating such a fascinating programme. Since its introduction in 2004, the Market Focus programme has been a fantastic way to open doors for both commercial and cultural dialogue around the world and we hope publishers and readers alike will enjoy this opportunity to learn more about the literary heritage and best contemporary writing from one of the Arab world’s fastest-growing markets.”
The emirate will host a series of literary sessions and seminars in cooperation with the British Council at a number of educational and academic institutions, while the Sharjah Market Focus pavillion will offer participating publishers and visitors a valuable opportunity to hear from a group of contemporary Arab literary greats. Emirati Mohammad Al Murr, Omar Ghobash, Sultan Al Amimi, and Eman Al Yousuf will give insights on Emirati experiences in writing literature and its status in the Arab literary world, while Khulood Al Mualla and Afra Atiq will focus on the long-standing poetry traditions of the UAE through poetry reading sessions and shining light on the aesthetics of Arabic poetry.
Dr Abdulaziz Al Musallam and writer Dubai Abulhoul will lead an insightful literary discussion addressing the influence of fairy tale and folklore on Emirati writing and the UAE’s publishing industry, while renowned Emirati actor and writer Habib Ghuloum Al-Attar and Abdllah Al Neaimi will have an open discussion on the role of books in shaping the local cultural movement. In another informative intellectual conversation, Emirati authors, Salha Obeaid and Reem Al Kamali will explore ways in which the Arabic language is being used to devise contemporary Emirati literature.
Sharjah’s growing potential
SBA will also showcase the growth the UAE’s and regional publishing sectors have experienced in the past few years, and explore opportunities for taking Arabic titles on the international platform. It will highlight its flagship initiative, Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ) – the only free zone in the world dedicated to publishing, printing and allied businesses, and offer key insights into the world of distribution and printing in the Arab market.
There will be sessions dedicated to highlighting the challenges and opportunities of translating to and from Arabic, as well as others, which will offer detailed information on the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) Translation Grant.
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