Books are best company in times of crisis - GulfToday

Books are best company in times of crisis


Photo has been used for illustrative purpose.

At a time when the deadly COVID-19 pandemic has confined billions of people inside their homes across the globe, nothing offers better company than books.

Mention the word “book” and the name of Sharjah flashes in everyone’s mind instantly. The Emirate has been taking noteworthy efforts to foster a culture of reading in the community.

As the world marks the annual World book and Copyright Day on April 23, Thursday, launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, Sharjah has special reasons to be proud as the event coincides with the first anniversary of emirate’s attainment of the title of World book Capital in 2019.

Sharjah turned out to be the first city in the Gulf region and third in the Arab world to achieve this great honour.

Sharjah’s achievement is a recognition of its incessant efforts to support books and culture, reinforcing its cultural stature to become the centre of the publishing sector in the region.

The emirate’s related overall initiative presented to the World book Capital Programme has contributed to strengthening its position in this area and includes leading events that attracted the attention of various segments of the community, as well as the book sector and the youth.

The LIBER International Book Fair in Madrid in October last year named Sharjah as Guest of Honour in a well-deserved recognition for the Emirate.

That came less than a month since Sharjah wrapped up a grand cultural showcase at Moscow International Book Fair 2019, where it participated as the fair’s first-ever Arab ‘Guest City’.

Landmark initiatives launched by the UAE, like funding public libraries, distribution of home libraries and honouring distinguished authors and publishers have contributed to the adoption of reading as a lifestyle by members of the Emirati society.

During reading month in March 2020, the UAE Federation Library of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research, ECSSR, launched a package of services that enable researchers and interested people to access information remotely through on its e-library, which contains over 5 million digital sources on various topics.

Separately, Sharjah World book Capital, SWBC, has partnered with audiobook platform Kitab Sawti, the Arabic language audiobook library, to offer a free 3-month membership to 5,000 people around the world.

This partnership is especially important with the current challenges and restrictions caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Using the code “Sharjahwbc”, visitors will have unlimited access to a world-class audiobook service which contains more than 2,500 titles and has exclusive copyrights to 5,000 Arabic and translated versions of international bestsellers.

As Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Head of the Advisory Committee of SWBC, explained, “The exceptional circumstances facing the world due to the coronavirus pandemic have offered us an impetus to continue supporting the publishing sector, including publishers, entrepreneurs, authors and readers with innovative solutions. By investing in the options that audiobooks offer, we aim to target the largest segment of book lovers and provide a larger number of people access to an exceptional selection of books, which aligns with SWBC’s vision to bring books and knowledge to all segments of society.”

Due to the exceptional circumstances facing the world caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, UNESCO has rightly called on everyone to benefit from the potential of books to strengthen human ties and motivate mental and innovative capacities, to limit the repercussions of the closure of schools and universities and social distancing measures.

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