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Shaikh Sultan opens Sharjah book fair.

Summary: His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the 31st Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) at the Sharjah Expo Centre on Wednesday with a message to value authors. He welcomed digital publishing as a way of spreading the work of talented writers to as many readers as possible.

His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the 31st Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) at the Sharjah Expo Centre on Wednesday with a message to value authors. He welcomed digital publishing as

a way of spreading the work of talented writers to as many readers as possible.

The fair will run for 10 days until November 17.

Dr Shaikh Sultan said: "Despite the participation of hundreds of publishers and hundreds of thousands of valuable books in our fair this year, we should not ignore some of the challenges faced by books and written material in general in these times."

At a glance

A total of 924 publishing houses from 62 countries are participating in the fair, of which 22 are Arab countries. Twenty four 24 are participating in the fair for the first time. The number of participating countries is almost double this year than in the previous edition which saw the participation of 894 publishers from 35 countries, including 14 Arab countries and 21 foreign countries.

The 10-day book fair will include more than 480 events and activities featuring cultural, children's and culinary programmes which will take place at Celebrations Hall, Book Forum, Literary Forum, Cultural Hall and Thought Hall.

The children's programme will include around 200 events, jointly organised by the Department of Culture and Information, Directorate of Arts, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah City of Humanitarian Services, Sharjah Educational Zone, Juma Al Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage, Bahrain's Women Association for Human Development and the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. The UAE, Korea, Sweden, Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Tunisia and France will conduct children-related events.

The culinary programme will feature 25 events dedicated to Indian, Pakistani, Gulf and Middle Eastern cuisines presented by chefs Nirmeen Hano, Naushad, Gerard Baker, Zakher, Rose Prince, Emmy Reyola, Ayesha Al Tamimi, Sam Clark and Manal Al Alim

Speaking of the new multi-media landscape which digital publishing and social media have brought, the he said: "We believe that each has his own role and scope, and all of us as authors, publishers and intellectuals have to think of the best ways to maintain the balance of these roles and implement them quickly.

"We believe that publishing houses in the UAE and our region should keep up with this new revolution and innovate attractive ways to display 'paper' books and 'digital' books to encourage readers to buy them and read them in whichever way they prefer."

The ceremony opened with the UAE National Anthem, followed by the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran and a short documentary film about the history of the Sharjah International Book Fair and the role played by Shaikh Sultan in the success of the fair, which has now become an internationally recognised event.

"Welcome to the capital of Islamic culture," said Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Owais, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Information in Sharjah. "We are still sowing seeds and we are delighted with the harvest that is coming now."

Dr Shaikh Sultan honoured media man and poet Habib Yusuf Abdullah Al Sayegh, Chairman of Emirates Writers Union, with the Cultural Personality of the Year award. This was in recognition of his great efforts in spreading and developing the UAE culture and representing it on various forums, as well as his outstanding contribution to different cultural aspects at local, regional and international levels.

Dubai-based Explorer Publishing and Distribution received the Best Local Publishing House Award, while the Egypt-based Dar Al Fikr Al Arabi Publishing and Distribution was given the Best Arab Publisher award and the American Centre for Press and Cultural Affairs -- US Consulate in Dubai -- received the award for Best International Publisher category.

In the category of Best Emirati Author, Dr Hamad bin Sarai won for his book Camels in the Land of the Ancient Near East and the Arabian Peninsula and Ibrahim Mohammed Ibrahim for his book Sugar Time.

The Best UAE Academic Book was won by Dr Salih Huwaidi Nasser for his study on Emirati short stories. No award was granted in the category Best UAE Book in Production and Translation as no entrant met the criteria. In the category Best UAE Printed Book about the UAE, the award went to the Environmental Atlas of Abu Dhabi by Motivate Publishing.

The award for Best Arabic Novel went to Hala Kawtharani's Ali al-Amercani (American Ali), while the Best Foreign Novel went to author Patrick Ness for A Monster Call.

The book, 'Winning is Everything: A 10-step guide for Sure-shot Success written by Deepak Behl won the Best Foreign Book on Economics Award, while the Best Foreign Children's Book Award went to Babar Maqbool for his book Stories of the Prophets.

The Ruler received commemorative plaques from the Sharjah International Book Fair and Emirates Telecommunication Corporation (Etisalat) in recognition of his pioneering role in serving books, authors and writers and in honour of his sponsorship of this prestigious cultural event.

He also received the Arab Federation for Libraries and Information Award for Outstanding Project in Libraries and Information Centers from Hassan Awad Al Surahy, President of the Federation.

The award acknowledges Shaikh Sultan's efforts in establishing a number of public libraries in the UAE and abroad, and his outstanding contribution to providing local, Arab and Islamic research centres with original and rare books. Also, his continued directives of organising courses, programmes, workshops and activities related to research and training, putting the library at the core of cultural research have been lauded.

Dr Shaikh Sultan launched the Arabic edition of his book, The Myth of Arab Piracy in the Gulf, followed by a documentary film about the content of the book, including old photographs, some historical documents and letters. The book was published in English in 1989, and has also been published in Farsi.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Nov 8, 2012
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