Sharjah International Book Fair 29th Edition

My photo
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
ExpoCenter 7th - 17th November, 2012. Hours | Saturday - Thursday: 10a.m. - 10p.m.; Friday: 4p.m - 10p.m.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

My search for the secrets of the UAE's beating heart

My search for the secrets of the UAE's beating heart

The mere mention of the name "United Arab Emirates" is enough to conjure passionate responses. Even among those who have not visited it, their opinions tend to be polarised between venomous distaste or alluring admiration. And yet their zeal – whichever opinion they opt for – is almost entirely based on what they believe the emirate of Dubai to be.

But of course as you, my intelligent, well-versed readers will know, Dubai is only one of the seven emirates that form the United Arab Emirates.

When it comes to the UAE, I must confess that I fall into the category of Allured Admirer. So when I received an invitation to speak at the Sharjah International Book Fair, which takes place this week, it was impossible for me to refuse.

Over the years, I've been to Dubai for short stopovers, marvelling at the growth of the city's buildings, its energy and its importance and of course its traffic. Despite the proximity to Sharjah, I've not yet been to this neighbouring emirate. But I'm excited. And intrigued.

I imagine Sharjah to be the genteel, cultured, picturesque older sister of Dubai. Or perhaps an aunt, or grandmother with the wisdom of age and the insight of family, history and culture. I envisage her to be a woman in whose trail is the fragrance of springtime, and whose elegant abaya floats gracefully on a wave of heritage and modernity, as she walks besides her brothers Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Of course, its reputation as a place of culture and museums away from the commercial bustle of Dubai is what gives it this branding. And this is cemented by the fact that my first visit to Sharjah will be to speak at a book fair of 28 years' standing, and where, as an author, I will get to interact with a reading public. This, of course, is one of the greatest joys for a writer.

The two emirates that I am more familiar with - Abu Dhabi and Dubai - intrigue me. They are mysteries to be solved, and whose palpating spirit must surely be hidden beneath their shared reputations for shopping, finance and skyscrapers.

I've also been investigating the lesser-known siblings of Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm al Qaiwain. Will they reveal themselves to me, or must I find tactics to seduce them into unveiling their geographic, cultural and scenic treasures?

I've been scouring the information available to me, trying to find the hidden beauties and cultures of the UAE. But, surprisingly, this is extremely challenging. Whenever I ask locals what there is to do they say: "Shop! And then shop some more!" And all the internet offers are saccharine lists of the "Top 10" places to visit, eat or shop.

Instead, I'm searching for the secrets that will help me locate the throbbing heart of these emirates.

As I write these words, staring out of the rain-flecked window of my home in the damp, cold autumn of London, it is hard to know whether these visions and wishes are of a romantic writer or of someone aching to travel away from the coming, grey cloudy gloom of Britain's wet winter.

Perhaps the answer is simpler than that. Perhaps the UAE will live up to this reverie.

Ask me again after I've returned from the Sharjah International Book Fair and my travels in the UAE, and I will share these secrets with you.

Shelina Zahra Janmohamed is the author of Love in a Headscarf and blogs

Octavia Nasr / Blog

Octavia Nasr / Blog

Friday, October 22, 2010

Octavia Nasr Launches Bridges Media Consulting with a Middle Eastern Tour-

October 21, 2010 -- Atlanta, Georgia -- Supporters, friends and fans of Octavia Nasr who count on her voice for a balanced perspective on the Middle East, are now able to experience her Bridges Media Consulting, a company she’s launching with an international tour this month.
As President and CEO of Bridges Media Consulting, Nasr brings more than 25 years of journalistic experience to lead clients through bridging differing voices and talents using best practices in engagement. Her consulting firm will bring voice to a vast “middle perspective” that she believes “lacks a voice.” Through training and consulting, she will assist media organizations and individuals shrink gaps that exist in conflict to create productive and successful communication.

Nasr has a vast experience in traditional media and is one of the pioneers in integrating social media in conventional newsgathering and reporting. “I’ve been on both the successful and perilous receiving ends of social media and have a lot to offer in terms of how traditional media need to evolve to meet new challenges,” she says. Nasr believes her company will help clients figure out the roles different media platforms - citizen journalism, traditional reporting, blogging and social media – play in news gathering and building credible stories and trustworthy news bulletins. She recognizes that citizen journalists are not professional journalists and vice versa, but she truly believes in a role for both of these entities and others for delivering informed and engaging stories. “Through Bridges Media Consulting, we hope to bring expertise and thought leadership to organizations and perspectives in conflict – domestic and global” she says.

Nasr is launching her company with an international tour starting in the Middle East and North Africa. In the United Arab Emirates, she will take part in the Sharjah International Book Fair, then onto Lebanon where she will meet with potential partners and clients, and Morocco where she will moderate a panel of U.S. Arab and Israeli negotiators and diplomats on new initiatives to restart the Middle East Peace Process at the 2010 MEDays Forum. The tour will end back in the United States at the Harvard Business School’s MENA Conference where Nasr will talk about Technology and The Media. “This tour will allow me to strengthen many relationships I’ve developed over the years,” she says. “It will also highlight my expertise as a Middle East journalist and analyst in addition to the social media role I have been cultivating over the past few years” she adds.

Companies and organizations that value Nasr’s diversity and deep knowledge of the traditional and new media landscapes can now tap into her vast experience to “build new bridges or repair broken ones.” Nasr brings to the table a unique perspective and expertise. Her goal, she says, “is to continue to make a difference in the world through Bridges Media Consulting.”
Bridges Media Consulting is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with a target clientele worldwide.

Octavia Nasr Tour:
Sharjah International Book Fair
October 26 - 29
Sharjah, UAE

Octavia Nasr Dubai Tweetup
October 27
Dubai, UAE

GeekFest Beirut
Beirut, Lebanon

MEDays 2010
November 12
Tangier, Morocco

HBS MENA Conference
November 21
Boston, Massachusetts

For more information, use the contact link at the top of this page.

Nightline in Conversation: Sharjah International Book Fair

Nightline in Conversation: Sharjah International Book Fair

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sharjah International Book Fair

29 years young the Sharjah Book Fair is starting next week!

It is a wonderful free event that champions Arabic and English language literature, with an eye on the UAE!