Sharjah International Book Fair 29th Edition

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

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Mich Caf�: Dubai welcomes Octavia Nasr

Join us at the Octavia Nasr tweetup!
Dubai, Sharjah, friends, fans, supporters, tweeps and facebookers -- all came out on Wednesday night (October 27) to welcome CNN's former Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs Octavia Nasr to the UAE.
I could not resist organizing a tweetup – i.e. a gathering of the virtual world friends -- when I heard Octavia (@octavianasr) was invited to participate in the October 26-November 6Sharjah International Book Fair.
I have been following Octavia professionally for more than 20 years and it is thanks to @Twitter, Facebook and Social Media that we have become friends. It was with great pride that I, and surely many others, watched a young Arab girl appear on a major US TV channel and work her way up to Middle East Editor. It doesn't get much bigger than that for Arab TV anchors and celebrities.
I am always hesitant to organize tweetups. I was reluctant to organize my own birthday parties when I was young because I always thought no one would turn up. But Octavia helped me muster my courage when she told me, "Never mind, even if it's the two of us, we'll catch up." Well, ha, ha, ha, to me!!! No sooner had the Tweetvite been posted online that it was flooded with views (1,422 and counting) and at least 30 people turned up at Reem al Bawadi, my favorite Dubai haunt.
Octavia gave a presentation on the opening night of the 29th Sharjah International Book Fair (@Shjintlbookfair) as part of an international tour to launch her new company, Bridges Media Consulting (@BridgesMediaC). She moves from hereon to the Lebanese capital for the GeekFest Beirut 3.0; then to Tangiers, Morocco, for MEDays 2010; and last to Boston, Massachusetts for the HBS MENA Conference.
In an interview with Abu Dhabi's The National on October 27, Octavia said the establishment of her own Atlanta-based media consulting company has allowed her more expressiveness. "The time has come for me to get on the road representing myself and everything I stand for. Through Bridges Media Consulting, I wish to be a voice of reason, a voice of moderation, a voice of expertise and best practices. I created Bridges Media Consulting to reflect what I've done in my career so far and serve as my platform to carry on making a difference in our world."
Joining us from the International Book Fair in Sharjah was one of the organizers, Rupert Bumpfrey (@rupertbu); Lisa Dempster (@lisadempster) from Australia and author of Neon Pilgrim; Cairo-based Marcia Lynx Qualey (@arablit), covering the fair for her blog Arabic literature (in English); and Zohra Saed (@MsTalibonita) and Sahar Muradi (@moosecha) the American/Afghan lecturers and authors of One Story, Thirty Stories, an anthology of contemporary Afghan American literature.
Wajiha, Alison, Layth, Noura, Octavia, Anastasia and Uzma
Also present were: Samer Jamal (@sameray), Anastasia Mankhaeva (@TDAllonsy), Jenny Saleh (here from the US and heard about the tweetup on Facebook), PK Gulati (@PKGulati), Maher Sbenati (@sbenati), birthday girl Alison Lehr (@AlisonLehr), Ashraf Al Amritti (an Al Jazeera English TV producer in Dubai from Gaza), Karla Castle (@kangayayaroo) and Paul Castle (@DaddyBird), Mita Ray (@mita56), Octavia’s cousin Huda Nasr, Wajiha Said (@wajihasaid), @DubaiJazz, Layth Barzangi (@barzangi), Uzma Atcha (@Lhjunkie), Samer Chami (@_BigSam_), Sayed Abu Diwan (Syd_Congrejo), Huda (@_hudz_), Tarik (@urbanhostage), Noura Nasrallah (@PurpleNaNo), Labiba Laith (@LabibaLaith) and Rami Kayyali (@cubex).
Samer, Alison, Octavia, Jenny and Sahar
We were fortunate to have a whole section of Reem al Bawadi assigned to us exclusively. We were able to exchange places, introduce ourselves and chat to each other and to Octavia. Once released from the constraints of "political correctness," Octavia shared many stories and experiences with the gathering. And, well into the night, we were kindly treated by Reem to “Arabic sweets on the house.”
This is what Social Media is all about -- eventually meeting (in person rather online) people from all over the world and from different professions and nationalities. These are the hallmarks of “sharing” and “social.”
Thank you Octavia for joining us and thank you all for turning up, sharing and bringing about a great evening.

Freedom From The Mundane � Missing The Sharjah International Book Fair

Freedom From The Mundane � Missing The Sharjah International Book Fair

Missing The Sharjah International Book Fair

I had absolutely nothing to blog about yesterday so I didn’t bother. Had I written anything you would only have discovered I had to switch into full-time daddy mode and had not the time to pick up a book never mind write some prose. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

The Sharjah International Book Fair kicked off a couple of days ago and I’m following the events closely through Lisa Dempster’s blog and @ShjIntlBookFair. Why am I doing this? Because I was invited to attend but regretfully couldn’t manage. As things have transpired on a personal level, I may have had to cancel anyway, but it’s still a drag to be reading about what I would have been involved with and am now missing out on.

As I sit here in Scotland watching everything that is happening over in Sharjah (near Dubai), I’m insanely jealous when I think I could have been there partaking in discussions, workshops and talking about writing—all expenses paid! Maybe next year, but the fact I was invited at all is testament to the power of Twitter and to online networking.

WhenI got home from work last night I had an extra special surprise waiting for me. @StevieWardDrive had sent me a strange parcel, which when I opened, was delighted to discover it to be a slice of the Clootie Dumpling he had made the day earlier and been boasting about on Twitter. He’d only posted it to me all he way from Greenock, and it arrived in perfect condition in tinfoil and jiffy bag.

I enjoyed it most graciously with a cup of tea after my dinner. Cheers Stevie!

I’ve got a brand new special offer on the go for the HALLOWEEN WEEKEND. Get 20% off ALL my poetry chapbooks when purchased This means you can buy FRINGE FANTASTIC, POOLSIDE POETRY and SILLY POEMS FOR WEE PEOPLE VOL.2for only £19.18, a saving of £4.79!

Make sure you use code GHOST305 when checking out. Offer vanishes on 1st November.

When I bought tickets to see UB40 at the Usher Hall next week, their ticketing system was so crap I fell into the trap of submitting my payment request twice because the first attempt returned an error. It turned out that the first attempt had gone through so I ended up with two extra tickets. I put them up for sale on eBay on Tuesday evening at around 9pm and by 10:10pm they’d sold. Result! I get my money back and a couple of UB40 fans who missed out will get to see the band’s final gig.

It got me to thinking. Years ago I used to purchase a lot of items through eBay as my passion for Madness moved me to start collecting a lot of their original vinyl record, promos and other memorabilia. I ended up with all kinds of rarities like one of the 500 original 12” pressings of Don’t Quote Me On That, a 7” copy of Uncle Sam wrapped up in an American Flag, to an all-one- paper suit (as in jacket, trousers and hat) used in the making of one of the videos (I forget which one).

So now I’m thinking, I have a load of other stuff in my attic that may just raise a few extra bob and also be a good way of clearing out said attic, which slowly over the past five years has collected all kinds of things in its belly. I won’t be selling any Madness stuff, or indeed any vinyl in case any fans are reading this, but it’ll likely be music duplicates, movies and other such items. It’ll be a kind of online car boot sale. And, of course, it may also be a venue I never even considered for selling my books.

Later peeps.

Prestigious (And Pricey) Sheikh Zayed Award Stripped Over Allegations of Plagiarism � Arabic Literature (in English)

Prestigious (And Pricey) Sheikh Zayed Award Stripped Over Allegations of Plagiarism � Arabic Literature (in English)

Lisa Dempster › Opening Sharjah International Book Fair

Lisa Dempster › Opening Sharjah International Book Fair

Sharjah International Book Fair

The Sharjah International Book Fair was opened yesterday with a huge, sit-down brunch launch ceremony featuring festival patron His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed al Qassimi – that’s the Sultan of Sharjah, to you and me.

Although most of the speeches were in Arabic there were live interpreters translating into English and French, and it was awesome looking around and seeing half the attendees with big headphones on their ears listening to alternate versions. Personally, I felt like I was in the UN. It was pretty cool. (Even cooler is that the live translations are going to happen at all the events!)

The show was really stolen by the Sultan, who gave a rousing speech about how Arabic culture is suffering and how Arabic people need to be interested in creating culture, and claim their culture, and make their culture globally relevant again. It’s so hard to tell how much the audience is thrilled by a speech and how much they clap their ruler out of politeness, but there was a real buzz about his words right throughout the day so I think they made an impact.

The Sultan is a really interesting figure as he’s a writer and art collector and incredibly interested in culture. Sharjah itself is a cultural centre, with many museums and galleries, and the Sultan supports most of them. He really seems engaged with the Sharjah International Book Festival, and also very present are the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information, who are my hosts while I’m here.

It is the 29th Book Fair and it’s a pretty massive event! It takes up a whole exhibition centre, and features 789 publishing houses from over 50 countries, including 120 local and 290 Arabic. There are over 200,000 book titles on display. Fark, eh? It’s gonna take me a long time to walk through all those books… but I’m looking forward to the challenge!

The ‘intellectual component’ of the festival, the more literary festival type events, has over 200 events, and includes a massive cooking demonstration program (oooooh, yeah!) and a children’s programming stream, of which Arabic kids’ literature is a particular focus. Ebooks are also present, though in quite a small way, and there is a Literary Cafe.

The highlight of the launch was when the Sultan’s new book (in English!) was launched. The book itself, published by Bloomsbury, covers the Sultan’s early year and looks quite interesting. The best bit, however, was the official signing of the first copy. First, the sign on the stage rolled back to reveal… a big table stacked with a few copies of the book, behind which was a huge white leather arm chair. The signing throne then rolled forward on mechanical rollers and the Sultan took his seat and signed the books with a flourish. Needless to say, the audience were not invited onstage to chat with the distinguished author. Unfortunately I did not get a photo of the signing throne but have made a mental note to order one next time I launch a book.

The slogan of the festival is For Love of the Written Word, a rather lovely sentiment. I’m looking forward to indulging my love over the coming days!

Octavia Nasr @ Sharjah International Book fair 2010

Octavia Nasr @ Sharjah International Book fair 2010

Notes from Sharjah: Orion Picks up طريقتي الخاصّة for English Translation | Read Kutub KIDS

Notes from Sharjah: Orion Picks up طريقتي الخاصّة for English Translation | Read Kutub KIDS

Quote of the day at Sharjah International Book Fair 2010 about Arabic children’s literature, from Bloomsbury-Qatar’s Andy Smart on why things, they are a-changing:“It’s so many people saying the same thing, there has to be a real demand there.”

Meanwhile, on the newsier side, Orion Children’s Books has acquired طريقتي الخاصّة, My Own Special Way, by Maitha Al Khayat, right here at the fair.

Children’s books translations into English are relatively rare (and Arabic-English children’s lit translations are a blue-moon occurence), but Orion’s Lisa Milton said, according to BookSeller.Com:

Orion Publishing Group is always looking for ways to promote books and reading to children from all walks of life; we are equally committed to publishing the best books. My Own Special Wayoffers a unique opportunity to explore Arabic culture and to understand more about the hijab; the story is engaging and the illustrations are delightful. We are looking forward to making it the success it deserves to be.

The book’s illustrations are indeed delightful. After the young protagonist decides she wants to embrace the hijab—like her older sisters—she looks for her own way to do it (with some humorous results), and finally succeeds.

Illustrated by Maya Fidawi, the translation will be edited by British children’s author Vivian French. Orion Children’s Books will publish in spring 2012 in the UK as an Early Reader

Congratulations to Maitha Al Khayat, to Kalimat, to Orion, and to a world that just got one translation richer! (Yes, I think the positive spirit of the book fair is getting to my head.)