Sharjah – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has embarked on a cultural exchange programme to open its publishing world to a variety of international publishers in a bid to promote translations in Arabic.
At the opening of the 41st edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) on Wednesday the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) reaffirmed its commitment to promote translations in Arabic and French and initiate more cultural activities.
Chairman of the SBA, His Excellency Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri received Consul-General of France in the UAE, Nathalie Kennedy, and highlighted the role of book fairs in building bonds between cultures and instilling a culture of reading.
Al Ameri said the SIBF has been recognised as the world’s largest book fair for the second time in a row and they were collaborating with more worldwide publishers to bring in as many titles as possible to the UAE.
“We have special interest in French language and literature which have a rich legacy and history, and we are keen on promoting translations that tell stories of French culture that will resonate with audiences in the Arab world,” he said.
“Libraries across the world, particularly in the African continent, turn to SIBF to look at new topics and titles for their shelves.
“This annual fair acts as the perfect choice for publishers to address the French-speaking communities in that part of the world.”
With 15 publishers from France participating at SIBF 2022, Kennedy said the aim was to build partnerships with Arab language publishers.
“We are keen to identify Arabic books that can act as cultural bridges and the book fair is an opportunity for readers to get a taste of French literature,” she said.
Both officials reaffirmed their solidarity to enhance their relationship through cross-cultural communications to promote literature.
This was the sentiment shared by the President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), Bodour Al Qasimi, during the parallel sixth edition of the two-day Arab Publishers Conference (APC) held under the theme: “Arabic Content Creation and Post-Pandemic Challenges”.
Al Qasimi shared three lessons learnt during her tenure as President of IPA when she visited book fairs in the region and around the world and met with publisher associations from more than 25 countries.
She said these lessons include the necessity of working and communicating with the global publishing sector, strengthening bilateral regional cooperation between publishers, in addition to promoting policies of diversity and inclusion to achieve positive change.
“This requires Arab publishers to keep themselves up-to-date through continuous and active engagements with regional and international publishers, institutions, and organisations if they must remain an important partner in international deliberation on the realities and future of the publishing sector,” said Al Qasimi.
“The major success stories in the publishing industry are the outcome of effective bilateral regional cooperation between publishers in the same geographic region, especially those that share a similar language or cultural values.
“Arab publishers should strengthen regional cooperation to utilise shared resources to reach more readers around the world, and boost growth opportunities.”
The SIBF was opened by the Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi.
Honours went to winners of the 41st edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2022) awards, and winners of the Sharjah Translation Award “Turjuman” and the 14th edition of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature.