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.

Saturday, 19 November 2011 | ‘Egypt needs committed intellectuals to unite nation’

SHARJAH: The Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi has called on Egyptian intellectuals to help unite the country as it goes through this period of power change.

He was attending a cultural lecture presented by an Egyptian intellectual, former Member of Parliament and representative of the country on the international nuclear body (IAEA), Dr Mustafa Al Faqi.

“I have been asked by Dr Mustafa of what I think of Egypt. Even if the earth crumbles, Allah has inspired Egypt (the revolution), and they will agree. I wanted to [help] bring them together, but this would mainly be the work of intellectuals,” Sheikh Sultan said.

The one-hour lecture was held on Thursday night on the sidelines of the ongoing Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF). Sheikh Sultan is commonly seen attending lectures on a daily basis.

Dr Mustafa raised a number of concerns on the direction of cultural development in the Arab world. He said the change of government in Egypt is breeding a culture of intolerance that we didn’t have as Arabs and Muslims. “The spirit of tolerance that Islam was known for is waning fast thanks to some Salafi people. It is a source of concern because we might be isolated. Islam has never taught exerting pressure on others.”

Dr Mustafa took a jibe at a “growing elements in the West that portray us in five Bs: Billionaires; Bedouins; Bellydancers; as people that love Bargaining on everything, and now we are Bombers.”

He said that these negatives have to be transformed “and this Sharjah experience of cultural development is poised to change such stereotypes.”

“Culture plays a big role in modern relationships. It destroys barriers and helps bring together global human beings. “I am sure the Westerners do not understand us and we do not understand them as it should be. If the cultural gap is closed through things like marriage and globalization, then doors of a better future are opened.”

Responding to some of the points raised by Dr Mustafa, Sheikh Sultan said, “When I was seated in a restaurant in Germany with a number of Westerners, I told them how we are also victims of historical tragedies, but you’re punishing us as Arabs. Is that justice? I told them there is dust between us and you, but let us put in the refrigerator to freeze. All of them came and shook my hand.”

At the seminar, Dr Mustafa also cautioned the audience about being taken away by the Internet culture. “While it is crucial that we should be competent in the area of information technology, we should not succumb to the cultural poverty bred by the Internet.”

He drew an example of how the death of Princess Diana overshadowed that of the Indian Albanian born charity icon, Mother Teresa in 1997. They died in the same week.

Sheikh Sultan also attended a seminar titled ‘The Challenges of Culture in The Arab World’ in the Conference Hall of Sharjah Expo Centre.

The seminar, organised by the Department of Culture and Information, saw the participation of Dr Shaker Abdulhamid, Egypt, Mohammed Saber Arab, Egypt, and Dr. Zeinuddine Mohammed Abdulhadi.

During the seminar, Sheikh Sultan discussed the term ‘culture,’ the Arab renaissance and the reasons behind a slow growth in the Arab world.

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