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The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) has explored ways to advance cultural partnerships between Sharjah and Russian cities during its participation in the 37th International Board on Books for Young People Congress (IBBY World Congress) in Moscow. The Authority also organised two creative sessions on the occasion, bringing together an elite group of Emirati and Russian authors and artists to discuss children’s literature and ways to advance it.

SBA’s participation aligns with the entity’s strategies to strengthen ties with leading cultural entities worldwide through various programmes and initiatives, and bring communities together by opening up opportunities for dialogue and reflection.

HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: "Our efforts align with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, which is aimed at highlighting the emirate’s cultural project, exchange experiences with cities worldwide, and promote the role of books in development. We are sure that our discussions with major Russian entities will not only open new horizons of dialogue between Emiratis and their Russian counterparts, but also advance exchanges between publishing professionals of our countries”.

He added: “While a cultural project must remain true to its identity to succeed, it must also be open to building bridges and learning from other cultures. For this reason, we are here to continue our efforts to grow Sharjah’s cultural project and build on our long-standing relationship with Russia, with a particular focus on boosting cultural activities and supporting our publishing industries.”

Joint cultural programmes and more

The SBA delegation, headed by HE Al Ameri and accompanied by Khoula Al Mujaini, Director of Fairs and Festivals at SBA, met with Prof. Vitaly Naumkin, Academic Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences. They talked about developing joint cultural programmes, and explored ways to showcase the work of contemporary Russian orientalists researching Arab literary and cultural heritage.

For his part, Naumkin lauded the visionary cultural project of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi, noting that Sharjah’s contributions to supporting the book industry and cultural activities reaffirm its leadership in inspiring creativity across sectors. He also highlighted the Sharjah Ruler’s key contribution in establishing the Institute of the Arab and Islamic Studies of the University of Exeter, UK, in 2001, and praised the continued support the institution's study and research programmes have received from His Highness since.

The meeting concluded with Al Ameri presenting Vitaly Russian translations of the Sharjah Ruler’s theatrical works.

Increasing partnership through libraries

The SBA delegation met with Vadim Duda, Director General, Russian State Library, in the presence of Dr. Musleh Ayedh Al Ahbabi, UAE Embassy's Charge d'Affaires in Moscow; and Naima Suhail Al Musharrakh, Head of the Media and Cultural Affairs Department at the UAE Embassy in Moscow; and Natalia Samoilenko, Deputy Director General for External Relations and Exhibition Activities, Russian State Library. The two sides discussed strengthening partnerships between Russian libraries and their counterparts in Sharjah to facilitate access to knowledge sources for all individuals, and expanding databases to support research and innovation.

They examined ways to mutually promote Emirati, Arabic and Russian literature, and discussed the participation of Russian libraries in the upcoming Sharjah International Library Conference, to be held on the sidelines of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) this November. Mechanisms to establish dedicated sections for Arabic titles in Russian public libraries and Russian in Sharjah’s libraries were also explored.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the delegation toured the Russian State Library and reviewed rare Arabic manuscripts and books that date back to AD 1100. HE Al Ameri presented Russian translations of the Sharjah Ruler’s theatrical works to the library.

During the visit Duda said: “Books and culture are key to bringing people together, and Sharjah’s wonderful contributions in this regard are globally appreciated. We hope to strengthen our collaborations with Sharjah and the UAE.”

Creative sessions on children’s literature at the IBBY World Congress

SBA organised two creative discussion sessions bringing together Emirati and Russian artists to discuss writing and illustration techniques in children’s and young adult literature.

Titled ‘The Idea Behind My Book’, the first session brought together Dr. Alyazia Khalifa and Marina Moskvina, who discussed their writing journeys, and how ideas can be developed into eye-catching books for children.

Emirati author Alia Al Bady and Anastasia Arkhipova led the second session titled ‘Illustrations Alone are Adequate’, debating whether compelling images can replace words in narrating a story. They also discussed whether silent books (wordless picture books) are appropriate for all ages.

Source: National Network Communications – NNC