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.

Sunday, 26 February 2012 | Literary start to cultural carnival


The current edition of Twinge is powered by the community, which is expected to be in full force for the 7-night extravaganza in Sharjah. The event will now be held twice a year
It has just begun but it has been decided that an urban arts festival in the UAE’s Cultural Capital of Sharjah would be definitely be held again – not once – but twice a year.

This is the “Twinge SHJ” which opened on Saturday evening with an overflow of visitors and guests at the Maraya Art Centre of the Al Qasba.

“It is going to be a twice-a-year event from now on in Sharjah,” announced organiser Sherif Abaza before the audience of the “Literature Night.”

“There is space. There is enough talent,” he later told The Gulf Today.

Kalimat Publishing House founder and chief executive officer Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi who was among the first to show up at the venue an hour before the main episode for the opening night, said: “This is brilliant. It is a great, great time to have first-time authors read about their works and books.”

Peter and Preethi Shekar from Ajman said they learnt about Twinge SHJ from the newspaper and they decided to drop by because they “were curious about what it is all about.”

“It is refreshing to know that there is something new around,” added Preethi.

Right in front of this reporter, husband and wife ticked their calendars on their respective mobile phones when informed that there would be a Comedy Night on Feb. 28 in Arabic, English and Urdu.

Preethi said they both love to watch comedy.

The couple also said they would be tagging along their 12-year-old daughter when they learnt that a fashion show is scheduled on Sunday evening, taking note of the interest of the girl in clothes.

For the opening night, one can say there is an artist in each one.

The three featured at the Literature Night were Abdullah Qassem, a teaching assistant at the University of Sharjah-College of Communications; Noura Al Noman, the director general of the Executive Office of Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi; and public relations director Alexander McNabb.

All of them are Sharjah residents.

Qassem participated because the festival was a good opportunity for him to share his translation into Arabic poetry a poem about Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) originally written in Turkish.

7-night eclectic fare

Twinge-SHJ, a sprightly 7-night affair has a programme incorporating myriad art forms:

Feb.26 - Passion for Fashion: A fashion show with Eclat and Laila Akeel.

Feb.27 - Reels of Sharjah: Screening of short films by Emirati and other UAE-based directors, namely Beno Saradzic, Shahid Azam, Faisal Hashmi, Ashraf Ghori, Haneen Kanaan, Omar Tanira and Neel Kumar.

Feb.28 - Laughter Therapy: A dose of comedy in Arabic, English and Urdu presented by Dubomedy.

Feb.29 - Kuttab Launch Night: Exclusive publishers’ night with Jamal Shihhi and Kuttab

Mar.1 - Rhythm Sessions: Night of music featuring The Abbo, Desert Heat, Tiny Hassan, Feras, Heba Rashid, Generation Band, and 4 Brownies.

Mar.2 - Magic of Poetry: Farrah Chamma, Muneer Jaehoon, Haneen Assaf, Abdulla Kassim, Shamma Kabital, Mohammad Azimudder, Asmaa and Afra Atiq will be taking the stage.

All events are being held at the Maraya Art Centre of Al Qasba. Doors open at 7pm and shows start at 8pm.

“This poem was already translated in the common Arabic language but I want the public to feel and know the beauty of it in the way Arabic poetry is written,” he said, after the question-and-answer session he had with a very interactive audience. For him, participating in an urban arts festival gives an artist the opportunity to work with and get to know others in the world of art.

Al Noman is a mother of four adolescent girls and a young man.

She had written Arabic books for toddlers under Kalimat and found Arabic novels for the young men and women “limited.”

Hence, her “Ajwan” for which “Twinge SHJ” became an avenue for her to introduce to the public for the first time, her science fiction novel about the struggles of a 19-year-old widow and mother.

“I believe there is no Arabic science fiction novel yet for the young adults,” she said.

Al Noman welcomed the arrival of the festival in her city, saying it is “important as it provides access” for the young to know and nurture literature and other art forms that are developing in a young nation.

McNabb has been a resident of Sharjah for the past 18 years.

In December 2011, he participated in the “Twinge DXB,” where he launched his novel “Olives.”

He said: “Twinge DXB was amazing. It is very good that it (“Twinge SHJ) is happening here.”

“Imagine, seeing and being with 50 artists means that culture is alive and growing,” McNabb added.

The public relations practitioner who has written speeches for men of authority shared portions from his “Olives.”

He said the novel is about an Englishman who falls in love with a Jordanian-Palestinian lady and gets into the intricacies of the “war for water” in Jordan, Syria and Palestine.

Just like Qassem and Al Noman, McNabb regaled the audience with his insights into literature as well as the experiences of delving into an arena which could be a self-discovery in itself.

The Gulf Today is one of the sponsors of the event.