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Continuing its triumphant campaign as a cultural and literary powerhouse, Sharjah concluded its Market Focus programme at the 49th edition of the London Book Fair (LBF) after three days of meetings and discussions, which opened the door to international publishers to expand their business in the UAE and Arab markets. The emirate showcased its vision for a more connected international publishing market and highlighted its state-of-the-art infrastructure and strategic location between Asian and African continents.

Held at Olympia Exhibition Centre, London, the event saw the participation of more than 20,000 publishers, librarians, literary agents and media representatives from more than 100 countries. Panel discussions, traditional Emirati folk performances and poetry recital sessions led by eminent Emirati and English authors and poets gave Sharjah’s Market Focus programme a diversity that reflected the vision behind the emirate’s cultural project to promote cross-cultural communication with the world.

The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) oversaw the Market Focus programmes. The participating entities included the Emirates Writers Union, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, Emirates Publishers Association, Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone, Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi Centre, Al Qasimi Publications, Sharjah Department of Culture, Sharjah Institute for Heritage, UAE Board on Books for Young People, University of Sharjah, Kalimat Group, House of Wisdom, Knowledge without Borders, and the 1001 Titles initiative.

Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Government Relations (DGR) in Sharjah and head of the Sharjah delegation at the book fair, said: “The world honours nations which consciously contribute to the development of humanity, knowing the importance of doing so. Sharjah is proud of its holistic, human-centric cultural project, which was established by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. Born from authentic Arab values and fully invested in imparting knowledge by supporting and promoting its book industry, the emirate’s cultural project, therefore, sets a regional and global benchmark”.

“Sharjah being honoured as the London Book Fair Market Focus was in fact a celebration of our leadership in promoting intercultural appreciation and exchange as a key pillar of sustainability and peace. As our digitalised world has given us the power to easily open doors to new peoples, places and cultures, it is imperative to not just focus on similarities, but celebrate differences. At LBF 2022, Sharjah played a vital role in highlighting the contributions of Emirati and Arab cultures to humanity, and we hope that we have opened new horizons for future dialogue and exchange between Europe and the Arab world,” he added.      

For his part, HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: “Sharjah’s participation in LBF 2022 was not only the UK’s celebration of the emirate’s cultural project, but also a global commemoration of its inclusive development experience which follows the forward-looking vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah”.

“His Highness has been attending the London Book Fair since 2008, and the emirate has participated for over 15 years. These efforts have helped us forge strong friendships with the UK and the rest of Europe – a bond that was celebrated this year with the Market Focus title. Sharjah’s cultural importance to the world was clearly seen in the strong engagement it’s Market Focus programme witnessed from publishers, authors, and key cultural entities at the book fair. We were especially proud to see Emirati writers, poets and creatives taking centre stage on prestigious cultural platforms across London” he added.    

“The emirate, using its great potential and relentless efforts, has established itself as a leader in publishing, regionally and globally. The fact that Sharjah was Market Focus at LBF 2022, which was preceded by its participation in Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2022 as the Guest of Honour, testify to our central place in the global book industry,” he concluded. 

As part of Sharjah's Market Focus programme, eminent Emirati and Arab authors were celebrated at LBF. The British Library and British Arab Center hosted local writers and poets to lead discussions and poetry recitation sessions. SBA showcased English translations of the works of 59 Emirati and Arab authors – the largest-of-its-kind initiative in the region supported by the Emirates Writers Union.

Source: National Network Communications- NNC