After five days of showcasing the Emirati culture to Russians at the 32ndMoscow International Book Fair (MIBF 2019), Sharjah – the World Book Capital 2019 -has wrapped up its ‘Guest City’ participation at the fair, going down the pages of history as the first Arab city to be offered this honour by Russia’s largest book fair.
The Sharjah pavilion welcomed huge crowds of visitors from 4 – 8 September, who came in to learn from the discussions led by Emirati authors, intellectuals and cultural figures; partake in a variety of art, craft and traditional folk activities organised by Sharjah’s cultural entities led by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) – all of which offered them a solid introduction to the UAE as well as Sharjah’s impressive 47-year cultural efforts, which have been recognised globally.
Russian authors, publishers and intellectuals were introduced to the efforts and initiatives of the emirate focused on boosting authorship in the UAE and the local publishing landscape.
Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah’s Department of Government Relations (DoGR), and head of Sharjah delegation to MIBF 2019, said Sharjah’s participation has been yet another remarkable success for the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhamad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, who has always wanted culture and arts to be the languages Sharjah uses to communicate with the world.
“Sharjah set up its cultural pavilion in a country with a rich cultural history, where literature was born more than 2,000 years ago. Today, we conclude our participation in Moscow after having introduced Russians from all walks of life to the gems of Emirati and Arab cultural heritage. The success of all our cultural events and engagements in Moscow adds another feather to Sharjah’s cap and reinforces the emirate’s cultural status on the global cultural map,” Sheikh Fahim said.
HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said that Sharjah’s participation as the first Arab city participating in MIBF in the capacity of a ‘Guest City’ is an affirmation of the emirate’s cultural status and its importance in the Arab and international cultural scene.
“After every participation in a cultural event, we recall the directive of the Sharjah Ruler to strengthen cultural and intellectual bridges with the world. For that purpose, we take our heritage, language and rich history to all its corners. Through this participation, Sharjah has widened the cultural gateway that connects Russia and the UAE,” he said.
Sharjah celebrated its ‘Guest City’ status at the 32nd MIBF with a lineup of rich cultural activities and heritage events that roamed Moscow’s streets and presented gems of Emirati and Arab culture to Russian and international visitors. The programme, included 15 panel discussions led by more than 15 authors and intellectuals, and 10 local publishing houses and cultural entities.
The biggest highlight of the emirate’s participation in Moscow was the stunning reception the Sharjah Ruler’s theatrical work, Nimrod, which was presented to a full house at the Gorky Moscow Art Theatre.
Russian visitors were presented with 13 works by the Sharjah Ruler translated to Russian, in addition to a collection of 59 Russian language editions of Arabic literature written by Emirati and Arab authors.
A unique opportunity was also offered by Sharjah to Russian and other international visitors to have an authentic taste of Emirati customs and traditions with henna art booths, opportunities to photograph themselves in in traditional UAE costumes and folk attire. The Sharjah National Band, on the other hand, brought street life in Moscow to a standstill with their vibrant songs and traditional dance performances at the historic Red Square, Moscow’s Gorky Art Theatre and the MIBF venue.
SBA also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Moscow’s General Directorate of International Book Exhibitions and Fairs (GDIBEF) in Moscow, to enhance collaboration in the cultural field. According to the MoU, both parties will organise reciprocal visits and cultural missions involving media institutions and facilitate the participation of Emirati and Russian publishers in both countries. Theywill also further their commitment by offering mutual proposals, suggestions and recommendations to participate in cultural exhibitions and book fairs organised in Sharjah and Moscow. SBA will facilitate Russian publishers with platforms at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) and Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), while GDIBEF will reciprocate with opportunities for Emirati publishers at Moscow’s exhibitions and book fairs.
This elaborate literary and cultural showcase in Moscow was a result of the efforts of the following entities: Emirates Writers Union, Sharjah World Book Capital Office 2019, Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, Emirates Publishers Association, Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone, Sharjah Department of Culture, Sharjah Institute for Heritage, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, Al Qasimi Publications, Kalimat Group, Knowledge without Borders, and 1001 Titles Initiative.