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.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012 | ‘Sheikh Sultan cares for the residents of the UAE’

January 25, 2012

ABDULLA AL ALAMI, a Sharjah resident, is proud to learn that His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, will complete his 40-year rule over Sharjah. “Every year Sharjah keeps crossing milestones of achievements, and we owe it all to the generosity and care of Sheikh Sultan,” says Al Alami. “I hope that he remains in the best of health and strength to keep leading Sharjah towards better times.”

Hamed Saadat, who studied at the American University of Sharjah, believes that Sharjah has provided him with the best educational, cultural and social experience thanks to the hard work and vision of its leader.

“Sheikh Sultan’s reign hitting 40 years is a great celebration, not only for Sharjah, but the UAE too. Wishing him longevity and health so that he can continue sharing his wisdom and kindness,” says Saadat.

Nedal Omran, a business management graduate, says Sheikh Sultan is a real good model of a wise leader, who spares no efforts in developing Sharjah.

“His tremendous effort has turned Sharjah into the Arab capital of culture. He is a unique person who regularly stresses on the importance of preserving our Arab heritage and culture and he is not only contributing to the development of Sharjah but he has remarkable achievements in other countries.”

“The Ruler is one of a kind, who really loves his country with all his heart and has done so much to turn Sharjah into a cultural and a favourite hub of many people,” Omran says.

For Mohamed Husain Idris, a legal adviser from Sudan, the world is indebted to the Sharjah Ruler on cultural, moral, legal and scientific bases. “In this, he deserves the Honorary Doctorates from all universities in this world. May the Almighty bestow his love and mercy upon him,” he says.

Waael Othman Mahmoud, an Egyptian real estate sales agent working in Abu Dhabi, says, “The Ruler of Sharjah is a man of letters who deserves all praise. He is Egypt’s great friend in need and this is evident from each and every step he takes, at all times, for the sake of us Egyptians.”

Ntambi Mousah, a Ugandan senior software engineer at eBusiness Applications, expresses his gratitude for the good times he is enjoying under the leadership of the Ruler: “It has been fun staying and doing business in the emirate than anywhere in the world,” he says. “The Sharjah Ruler is a leader in possession of strong development policies and strategies who also supports social and political sustainability.Thus on this day all I have to say is, ‘Long live our Beloved Ruler’!”

The incumbent president of Indian Association Sharjah (IAS), Adv Y. A. Rahim, has a heart full of praise for the Sharjah Ruler for “he is very loving and takes care of all communities living in the emirate while he looks after his own countrymen — the Emiratis — to the core.

“Sheikh Sultan is so generous that he gracefully donated land for IAS in 1979 and again in 2000 to build the Silver Jubilee Block of Sharjah Indian School (SIS), the community school where more than 7,000 students study. It is not a small thing that we got the land for the association and the school. Further the Sharjah Ruler was kind enough to understand the need of the Indian community and donated land in Sharjah for the construction of a crematorium, a dire need,” Rahim, who is associated with the community for several years, remarks.

“In fact, Sheikh Sultan loved and cared for the Indian community, the leading expatriate community working in the UAE. One point I should highlight is his benevolence towards the labourers staying in Sharjah and working elsewhere. The allotment of a special area for their accommodation and regulations to control illegal recruitment and rehabilitation are commendable,” he adds.

Nissar Thalangara, secretary, UAE national committee, KMCC, underlines the historic relations between India and the Arab countries which are still going strong. “Arab leaders love Indians and respect their culture of dedication in work. Money does not solve all problems. We need mutual respect and love. Sheikh Sultan is an embodiment of love and respect. He is a scholar and that makes the difference. The Sharjah University City is a fine example of his care for educating every child, national and expatriates,” Thalangara remarks.

“The Sharjah Book Fair, highly acclaimed by foreign writers and scholars who visited the fair, is another scholarly example of his dedication to letters. The fair is one of its kind in the Arab World where world literature converges under one umbrella. The collection of Malayalam books showcased in the fair and the number of literary figures visiting the fair to launch their books, are increasing year-by-year. That is a fantastic idea and Sheikh Sultan himself graciously opens the fair every year,” Thalangara says.

“We pray for his good health and prolonged life for he loves the people like his children.”

Dr Chithra Shamsudeen, medical director, Dr Chithra Shamsudeen’s Clinic, Sharjah, is highly appreciative of the annual Art Festival, Arabic Calligraphy festival and other cultural festivities in Sharjah held under the auspices of Sheikh Sultan. “These festivities underline Sharjah’s well-deserved position as Arab Cultural Capital.”

On the high standard Sharjah boasts on health services, she underlines the role of Al Qasimi Hospital in Sharjah which also serves as a referral hospital in the country. “The Sharjah Ruler also supports the private health sector in the emirate. This is another feather in his cap.”
The doctor lauds the initiatives of Sheikh Sultan such as anti-smoking drive, anti-obesity, anti-drug programmes and the oral health programme for children.

“The Sharjah leadership should be appreciated for the health programme for the schoolchildren. This is timely and ongoing along with the anti-smoking and other health initiatives. Children are our future and taking care of them is taking care of the future of the nation,” Dr Chithra says.

Omar Mohammad Al Nabooda, a businessman from Sharjah, says: “I am thankful for what His Highness has done for Sharjah. Through the University City, children are now provided with more opportunities in education. He cares for all of the employees of the Sharjah government since he periodically orders for salary increments and other employees’ benefits like they would be getting another pay raise next month. He has banned the sale of shisha, alcohol and illegal drugs which is very good because it prevents juvenile delinquency. He has made it a point that all Emirati families live near each other, a clear manifestation that the family is very important to him. He has preserved the Islamic and Arabic heritage intact by keeping the 400 mosques and all the symbols of the heritage in their original form. He is a very good man that is why residents of Sharjah love him so much.”

Rashid Saad Alhaqbani, a businessman from Saudi Arabia who frequents Sharjah, says: “I visit Sharjah every time I come to the UAE with my family. Sheikh Sultan is a very good man because there is a good system here. He has preserved the old sites, the old shopping centres especially the ones by the sea, the old museums, the heritage area, the beautiful mosques. He is doing everything to propagate Islam. Sharjah TV is a very good vehicle to learn what Islam is all about. I am happy in Sharjah. I can relax with my family here. He is a very good man. I wish him long life.”

Jehan Ali Al Khalili, Sharjah Ministry of Health-Complaints Section public relations officer, remarks: “I was born and raised in the UAE and have been living in Sharjah with my family for 28 years. I love to live here because Sheikh Sultan cares for the residents. He is a wise man. He continually develops the city and cares about the preservation of Islamic culture. Museums and mosques abound in Sharjah. I love the Islamic architecture maintained in all of the structures being built.”

Tariq Anwar, a travel and tourism expert working with Qatar Airways, commends Sheikh Sultan’s efforts to save the cultural heritage of Sharjah which has earned the emirate an important place in the tourism world, which is the prime source of attraction for tourists from Europe.

“His interest in maintaining Sharjah’s cultural heritage is admirable. Due to his effort Sharjah was bestowed the title of Cultural Capital of the Arab World in 1998 by Unesco. It was his continuous effort in this direction that Sharjah has been chosen as the 2014 Capital of Islamic Culture by the Ministers of Culture in Islamic countries,” says Anwar.

Anil Pande, a resident of Sharjah, commends Sheikh Sultan’s deep interest in promoting art and cultural as well as the educational scenario in the emirate. “The Sharjah Art Biennial and the Sharjah International Book Fair are the two legendary examples of his continuous efforts in this direction. It has inspired people to read and appreciate art in a time when people have forgotten its importance and spend more time in online activities,” he adds.

By Imran Mojib, Mohan Vadayar,
Lina Abdul Rahman,
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Zeinab Nasser,
Hamza M Sengondo | A model of munificence

Forty years ago, His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council, became the Ruler of Sharjah. In these four decades, he has revolutionised the face of the Emirate of Sharjah, making it a stellar signpost of cultural and humanitarian development, apart from giving it an urban and industrial facelift. Cloaked in humility and capped by modesty, Sheikh Sultan is a Ruler with munificence, a multi-faceted repository of talent and generosity who not only cares for the people but also believes in all-round development of not just Sharjah, but the UAE as well.

It was because of him that Sharjah was honoured with the title ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’ by Unesco in 1998. He has been the brainchild and architect behind setting up key landmarks in the emirate. He has fostered the growth of the annual Sharjah International Book Fair for the past 30 years; established Sharjah TV; set up the Sharjah Excellence Award for the physically challenged; and created model free zones in Hamriyah and Sharjah International Airport. He is also a groundswell of academic radiance, having not only achieved two doctorates from distinguished universities but received honorary doctorates, medals and awards from institutions and bodies across the globe. He has also penned several books, both literary, historical and theatrical. Here we take a look at the trajectory of his life and strides of advancement in Sharjah.

On January 25 1972, the Al Qasimi Ruling Family in Sharjah selected His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, at the age of 32 years, to succeed his late brother His Highness Sheikh Khalid Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi as the Ruler of Sharjah and its dependencies, and as member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates. His Highness is the 15th Ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah in a chain of Al Qasimi Rulers since the year 1630 AD.

Sheikh Sultan was born on July 6, 1939. He did his elementary and secondary education in Sharjah, Dubai and Kuwait. He completed his B.Sc in agricultural engineering from Cairo University in 1971. He also holds a PhD with distinction in history from Exeter University, UK, and a PhD in political geography from Durham University, also in the UK. He was UAE Minister for Education from 1971-72.

He has also established some prominent bodies and organisations, such as the Consultative Council of Sharjah, Department of Culture and Information, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development, Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, Sharjah International Airport, Sharjah Municipality and Sharjah Police General Directorate.

Sheikh Sultan has also played a distinguished role and been a stellar model where learning and academia are concerned. He was visiting professor, Exeter University (1998); Professor, Modern History of the Gulf, University of Sharjah (1999); Visiting Professor, Cairo University (2008), and has been President of both the American University of Sharjah and the University of Sharjah since 1997. He also founded the American University of Sharjah and University of Sharjah.

Sheikh Sultan has also been honoured with honorary doctorates from various universities around the world, including Exeter University, American University in Cairo and University of Sheffield. Besides, he has several honorary posts, including:

  • Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in England.
  • Honorary Member, Centre of Middle East and Islamic Studies, University of Durham
  • Honorary President, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services
  • Founding Member of the University of Exeter’s College of Benefactors, Exeter University.
  • Honorary Member of the National Geographic Society, Washington DC

He also received several medals and awards. Among his awards are: the Creative Sports Award - Order of Merit - received from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in the second edition 2010 for continuous leading guidance and supporting all forms of sports in the UAE; Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Award for Cultural Personality of the Year; Princess Fatima Ismail Distinguished Award - Cairo University, in recognition of his generous and longstanding support of Cairo University’s mission and goals; and the “Order of Merit” both from the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Senegal.

He has also played a key role in promoting arts and culture in the emirate of Sharjah. He established the Sharjah Award for Arabic Culture, the idea for which was born out of the designation of Sharjah as the Cultural capital of the Arab world for 1998 by Unesco. The award was officially adopted based on Sheikh Sultan’s generous initiative to allocate a sum of $250,000 to Unesco.

He has also initiated Sharjah Cultural Festival tours in different cities, which bring aspects of Arab and Islamic art and culture to the people of the world.

He has also established the Sharjah Creative Thinking Foundation; inaugurated Sharjah TV in February 1989; hosted the Sharjah Biennial Exhibition, and set up the Sharjah Art Foundation in 2010.

He has also been at the forefront of humanitarian services and industrial development. He has founded centres for the rehabilitation of the mentally and physically challenged persons, established a care centre for old people, and set up the Sharjah Excellence Award for the physically challenged to enhance their smooth social rehabilitation.

Truly, he is an iconic cultural bridge between the Arab world and the West. Sheikh Sultan’s tenure marks a milestone of milestones and we hope that his administrative and cultural beacons continue to shine for years to come.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Emerging Writers' Festival director and avid traveller Lisa Dempster reports on the blossoming, globally-minded literary culture of Sharjah's International Book Fair. - The Wheeler Centre: Books, Writing, Ideas

Emerging Writers' Festival director and avid traveller Lisa Dempsterreports on the growth of contemporary literary culture within and around the Sharjah International Book Fair, which in 2011 celebrated its thirtieth anniversary.
The Sharjah International Book Fair takes place over ten days and is unique in many ways. In the west we are used to our literary events looking a certain way – our writers festivals are about discussion and debate (and selling retail books); our book expos focus on publishers, distributors and agents (and selling rights); and our writers’ conferences focus on industry skills development (and selling manuscripts). The Sharjah International Book Fair is a combination of all these elements.
A book trolley from Sharjah International Book Fair. (Photo: Lisa Dempster)
Traditionally, the core of what the Fair has done is act as a large public-facing book sales outlet. Hundreds of publishers come to sell their books direct to readers, and the public come and buy books in the thousands – often buying a year’s worth to take advantage of the retail discounts. (The book trolleys are one of the best things about the Fair!) A robust schools programme has been in place for many years, with schools visiting the Fair on weekdays. And, informally, publishers and distributors have had a chance to meet and network.
But in the past two years – which I have been lucky enough to attend – Sharjah has added other elements to the Book Fair: in 2010 it featured its first literary discussions and panels, including a cookery corner, and in 2011 it scheduled a professional programme aimed at bringing publishers and agents together from around the world to sell and buy rights. The Fair also awards literary prizes, including the one million dirham Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature, and in 2011 set up a $300,000 translation fund. But why the mixed bag of offerings?
For one, Sharjah is currently incredibly dedicated to developing a literary culture where there currently isn’t much of one, and its book fair is the centrepiece of that development. (Of course, the region has one of the longest histories of literary culture in the world – when I talk about a ‘developing’ culture, I am speaking about commercial publishing and bookselling.)
A large audience gathers during the 2011 fair. (Photo: Lisa Dempster)
In general, the writing and publishing culture in the UAE – and, more broadly, the Middle East – is far less developed than what we enjoy in Australia. Fewer publishers, less bookshops, and difficulty in distributing work due to cultural and geographic fragmentation in the market means that there are less writers and readers – and yes, less literary infrastructure. There are currently two major literary festivals in the UAE – Sharjah Book Fair and the Emirates Literary Festival in Dubai – and no writers’ centres or other institutions. Digital publishing is basically non-existent. A similar situation exists throughout the Middle East.
However, the current emir of Sharjah, Sheikh Dr. Sultan al Qasimi, in addition to being a writer himself, is a great lover of books and literature. It’s with his support, teamed with the energetic direction of Festival Director Ahmed al Amri and festival patron publisher Sheikha Bodour al Qasimi, that Sharjah’s Book Fair is diversifying and becoming larger. Thus the rapid growth and expansion of the fair, and also – I felt – the experimentation in trying out different programming elements to see what will work. There is a recognition that to sell books and get people reading, there needs to be a strong local industry in place. (Many of the books sold at the Book Fair are imports – from the Middle East, India and the West, largely – with few titles available from Emirati authors; simply because there aren’t many published.)
Sharjah’s Poetry House. (Photo: Lisa Dempster)
As a visiting Australian it was fascinating to look at the developing literary culture in Sharjah, and how the Book Fair is uniquely both creating and responding to the needs of its citizens. Post 2010, after the Fair first introduced a social media team (which I was on), there was a rise in the sense of community around book readers and writers in the UAE. On my return in 2011 I discovered that in the past year, more than one book club had been set up; at least two books had been self published; a locally-organised and very well attended 100 Thousand Poets for Change event had taken place, and through the@shjintlbookfair Twitter account, many people had connected with each other to talk books. A flow-on result was much larger attendance at the Book Fair last year – as an audience member I noticed a definite rise in the number of people attending the discussion panels to hear authors talk about their work.
Sadaf Syed’s photo documentary iCOVER. (Photo: Lisa Dempster)
Attending the Sharjah International Book Fair has been eye-opening. Excitingly, I got to meet and speak with writers from around the world, and appreciate the truly global literary outlook that the region has (in Australia I get frustrated that we spend so much time looking to the West.) It also confirmed something that I have long suspected – that, despite the doom and gloom we sometimes go on about, Australia is an unnaturally friendly place for writers.
But most vitally, it was fascinating as a festival director to see how Sharjah is taking shape as a force for literary culture in the UAE (it is an ambition I share for the Emerging Writers’ Festival!). It was refreshing and inspiring to visit a Fair that seems familiar in many ways, but has its own modes of operation, and unique ideas about what it can and should do. What is a literary festival? What should it be? What could it be? Sharjah International Book Fair is asking these questions, and shaping up to be a unique – and powerful – force for literature, in the Emirates and beyond.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Outreach @ Sharja: Graphic Arts at the Sharjah Book Fair | The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University

As attendees of the Sharjah International Bookfair in the UAE in November, one of the Outreach Center’s main goals was to connect with many of the artists with whom we have been in touch for various projects over the past year. Last year our programming focused onteaching and learning through comics and graphic novels brought us new knowledge and excitement about the innovative work being done by contemporary independent and grassroots comic artists in the Middle East region. There is in fact a remarkable flourishing of wonderfully sophisticated work—political and quotidian, poetic and playful—from Samandal in Beirut to Tok Tok in Cairo and beyond. This spring the Outreach Center will publish Muktatafaht, a comics collection showcasing the work of thirteen artists from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories.

Muktatafaht: A Comics Anthology Featuring Artists from the Middle East Region

Seven of these artists were able to join us in Sharjah, giving us a chance to learn more about their current projects, thank them for their contributions, and (thrill of thrills!) do some drawing together.

From left to right: Tok Tok contributor Mohammed Tawfik, Tok Tok co-founder and contributor Mohamed el Shennawy, Outreach Center Curriculum Coordinator Anna Mudd, Samandal contributor Jana Trablousi, Egyptian comic artist Magdy el Shafee, comic scholar Nadim Damluji, author of "Falasteezee" Mahdi Fleifel, and political cartoonist Nidal Elkhairy.

Newest issues of Tok Tok and Samandal
Newest issues of Tok Tok and Samandal

In addition to the new issues of ongoing comic publications coming out of Cairo and Beirut, as well as new publications arising all the time, collaboration both across regions and mediums is also growing, catalyzed frequently by the political and activist dimensions of this work.

Magdy el Shafee is an Egyptian artist whose work was confiscated and destroyed under the Mubarak regime. He recently made his US debut as one of several comic artists from the Arab world featured in the most recent issue of the long-running radical US comic magazine “World War 3 Illustrated,” in an issue themed “liberation from the Mid-East to the Mid-West” alongside such US figures as radical anarchist comic artist Seth Tobocman.

This year the Outreach Center has developed programming around graffiti and street art as political protest, a medium which often intersects with the world of comics. One of the most compelling artists working in this medium goes by the name of Ganzeer; his pamphlets, street murals and print materials have been a fixture of the Tahrir protests of the past months. We were excited to learn about a recent zine (a small, independently published booklet), El Arab #1, that he created along with a range of comic and graphic artists.

Interior pages of Zine El Arab #1
Interior pages of Zine El Arab #1

The small, self published zine format can be a powerful way to produce and share work with immediacy. In the final days of the fair five of the artists (Barrack Rima, Mohamed el Shennawy, Jana Traboulsi, Nidal el Khairy, Mohammed Tawfik) produced a lovely, small book including sketches detailing their impressions of the city of Sharjah and their experiences on the trip.

interior spread of sketch book interior spread of sketch book

This spirit of collaboration, innovation and creativity is what the Outreach Center has found so inspiring throughout the months in which we have explored this medium. And so we were delighted to have the opportunity not only to talk and plan, but to make some comics along side these inspiring artists.

Outreach Center Curriculum Coordinator Anna Mudd draws with Egyptian Comic Artist Magdy el Shafee
Outreach Center Curriculum Coordinator Anna Mudd draws with Egyptian Comic Artist Magdy el Shafee

The fair itself had one panel devoted to comics, with a focus on artists working in more mainstream contexts and aesthetics. These included: Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, creator of superhero series “The 99,” Qais Sedki, creator of the Manga series Gold Ring, and founders of the forthcoming UAE-based Middle East Comic-Con.

Qais Sedki and an organizer of the Middle East ComicCon
Qais Sedki and an organizer of the Middle East ComicCon

Both the comics themselves and the development of the creative communities surrounding their creation have been a wonderful lens through which to explore art and politics in the Middle East region over the past year and a half. We look forward to our continued involvement with them!

—Posted by Anna Mudd