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.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Kalimat : The story of a Mother’s Journey to Publishing

Sheikha Bodour is herself the epitome of women’s ability to manage multiple responsibilities with equal charm

Part two of a series of essays on Sharjah International Book Fair 2011

Atoms are at the heart of every matter. Plants grow into huge trees. Blocks of cement constitute skyscrapers.

Story telling

Story telling

Cute cubs become daring lions. Yes, children today are parents tomorrow. And if you wish to fix the future, cherish the present in the right hands.

The Sharjah International Book fair, the carnival of the written word, was an extravaganza which appealed to both children and adults alike. And I can testify this from the experience of my little one who went there every day which lasted for 10 days. The amount of kids who crowded the Children’s Corner at the Fair for story telling, games and activities made the Books event a wonderland for the little ones.

The Mother is, undoubtedly, the first story teller for the children. But when her bag of stories runs out, she is in need for quality books which contain elements of both fun and learning that are intrinsically woven in the original culture and heritage of the society they live in.

children's games

children's games

K is for Kids. And Kalimat too.

Kalimat Books, the publisher of children’s book in Arabic, was the result of a mother’s quest for quality literature for her daughter. Sheikha Budour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, the founder and CEO of Kalimat, began the publishing firm when she could not find proper books for her child. With over 100 titles in print, Kalimat has become a favorite of Emirati mothers who want to give the best for their children.

The titles from Kalimat are deep rooted in family values and aimed to build a sense of national and cultural identity among its little readers. The philosophy of Kalimat, meaning words, is very clear. Just as Kids make future parents, kalimat complete books.

Baba Zayed

Baba Zayed

Titles such as Power in Unity, kids are taught to remain intact with their society for the larger good of all. For, the wolf attacks only a lonely sheep. Baba Zayed, another recent title, is a colorful illustrated biography of the noble Father of the Nation, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Children need to remember and remain grateful to great souls of the past for a fuller realization of their own potential to face any challenges of the future. Other two recent books are focused on respect for grandparents which is a dying phenomenon in the materialistic age.

Versatility with Equal Charm

Bodour Al Qasimi is remarkably true to the literal meaning of her name. Bodour is the feminine and plural version of the Arabic word for full moon. Married to the charismatic Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, chairman, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Development Authority and also Sharjah Media Corporation, she is a champion of the causes of women and children.

Power is in unity

Power is in unity

She is herself the epitome of women’s ability to manage multiple responsibilities with equal charm. Besides heading managerial posts at various governmental institutions like Shurooq, the cultural investment arm of Sharjah and Sharjah Ladies Club, she is also actively involved with Knowledge without Borders and is the president of Emirates Publishers Association as well as the International Baby Food Action Network in the Arab World which is aimed at reducing infant mortality.

Hot 40.

It may be out of a coincidence, destined and ordained by the Lord, that on the eve of writing this piece, Bodour Al Qasimi was listed by a leading English daily among the Hot 40 Youths who could ‘usher UAE into the future’.

Muktatafaht: A Middle East Comics Anthology by A. David Lewis » Updates — Kickstarter

Update #3: Sharjah!

Posted 3 days ago

This past November, two of the Muktatafaht traveled to the U.A.E. as guests of the Sharjah International Book Fair to meet with several of the artists who are contributing to the comic anthology. There were several panels and events related to comics of the Middle East at the fair, and we were honored to have the opportunity to share details about this exciting project. Pictured here are (from left to right) is Tok Tok ( contributor Mohammed Tawfik,Tok Tok co-founder and contributor Mohamed el Shennawy, Muktatafaht co-editor Anna Mudd of the Harvard Center for MIddle Eastern Studies Outreach Center, Samandal ( contributor Jana Trablousi, Egyptian comic artist Magdy el Shafee (, comic scholar Nadim Damluji (, author of "Falasteezee"Mahdi Fleifel, and political cartoonist Nidal Elkhairy( The visit was a time to learn more about the artists' current projects, create some work together, and gain momentum for the anthology. Muktatafaht will be released and distributed in May of 2012.

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    Only backers can post comments. If you have a question, ask the project creator.

    Update #2: Muktatafaht still lives -- thanks to you!!

    Posted on October 21
    Kickstarter worked -- but in a way we never planned! The following message is for all donors, regardless of amount, from Paul Beren, Harvard U. CMES Outeach Center Director: "Greetings. The Kickstarter campaign that was initiated one month ago to fund the comic anthology ended and did not reach the desired goal of raising $9000. However, thanks to your generosity and support, it raised nearly 1/3 of that amount. In part because of this excitement the project to create the anthology is still going to continue. Because of the Kickstarter campaign, and the interest in it, we have been able to find some additional funds to cover the cost of the project. This means that the creation of the anthology will proceed as we had planned. This project would not be in a position to succeed without your invaluable support. On behalf of the editors and contributing artists we deeply thank you and hope to provide you with a free copy of the anthology once it has been completed. Sincerely, Paul Connect with us on Facebook: Follow us on Twitter: "
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          Juan Mario Cardenas on October 21

          Awesome news!!! I'll be waiting!!!

      Only backers can post comments. If you have a question, ask the project creator.

      Update #1: Magdy el Shafee joins Muktatafaht!

      Posted on October 4

      We're delighted to announce that the talented Magdy el Shafee will be contributing pages to our anthology. Below, we've included a sample of his work from Metro found at

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      Sharjah: Comics & Graphic Novels « Que Sera Sara?

      Britain is notoriously squeamish when it comes to illustrated work.

      Despite delivering excellent artists and writers like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and a bevy of other superstars – they still lack a mainstream following or any significant literary respect.

      Whether that’s the cause of or effect behind the cagey, insular and incredibly risk-averse market is hard to guess – but it astounds me every time I travel how far behind we are in this arena.

      The work being done elsewhere in unconventional, illustrated formats is astounding.

      Sure, Tintin has his pluses. And I love a good, gothic Batman, but these are not the same.

      Lumping graphic novels together is like lumping conventional novels together.

      Enid Blyton and Irvine Welsh and Stephen Hawking and Charles Dickens all in the same bookshelf. Can you even imagine the classification merely consisting of the idea that they all put words on paper?

      Anyway, I could rant and rave about this for days, and there are exceptions to every sweeping statement [there is a just irony in my over simplification of this form of stereotyping, but that's a thought for another day].

      There is just so much exciting work in this sphere, and such an opportunity for cultural dialogue.

      One I noticed in particular at the Sharjah International Book Fair is an Indian graphic novel without any of the conventional structure – it’s illustrated in a more traditional style with no text boxes, no 9 frame pages.

      It’s fluid and dynamic and incredibly vivid.

      The publisher, Navayana, look at the caste system of India – from an anti-caste outset.

      Bhimayana is going to be published by Tate in the UK, hopefully next year, under the title Outcast [interestingly, he refused to let them call it Untouchable. As he said, "that's like calling a Martin Luther King biography Nigger", for that is the very stigma and segregation the book looks to diffuse, not propagate]

      It was listed in Paul Gravett’s recent top five political graphic novels.

      Paul is an expert on the subject and director of Comica Festival in London. He’s an excellent guy, and I’d take his recommendations any day.

      So the fact that’s listed alongside the Big Three is kudos indeed.

      In praise of translation « Literature & Spoken Word Community | Southbank Centre

      Happy December! It is the season to be jolly, and looking back over the year’s literary calendar, a jolly good literary discipline to celebrate is translation. Indeed a number of literary events this year have reached to the heart of this very subject, from Mourid Bourghouti speaking fascinatingly on the issue in connection with his beautifully written new memoir, “I was Born There, I was Born Here”(published by Bloomsbury), to a trio of Egyptian writers who also explored the issue, Khaled Al Khamissi, Ahmed Mourad, and Ahmed Khaled Towfik (published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation). Next season will also be filled with the delights of literature from all around the world.
      Translation opens up to us a whole world of stories hitherto hidden. English PEN are at the heart of exciting initiatives in translation and I caught up for a chat earlier in the year with Director Jonathan Heawood who explained: “A really positive, creative way of supporting world writers is just to make sure that they’re read” - and one way of doing this with writers working in different languages is to develop and expand translations. Indeed, English PEN have recently announced the recipients of their Writers in Translation awards. The aim is to get people reading more world writing, as so much literature written in indigenous languages does not bridge the divides of geography and language due to few translations. This year also saw the 2nd International Translation Day focusing on the important art of translation in breaking down barriers.
      The issue of translation is also one I’ve been thinking about having attended international literary festivals and book fairs this year including the thought-provoking British Council Erbil Literature Festival in Iraq, and Sharjah International Book Fair: at both of these, translation was crucial to communicate the ideas and stories of a range of exciting and important writers working in languages including Arabic, Kurdish, Syriac and Persian. Indeed at the Sharjah International Book Fair, a new Translation Grant was inaugurated to encourage the sharing of global literatures.
      Of course, this is not to undermine the importance of learning new languages themselves: what a joy to read classics in the original language. As the Czech proverb goes: “Learn a new language and get a new soul”.