SHARJAH – To celebrate Sharjah’s prestigious guest of honor title at the 59th Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF), the emirate hosted a galaxy of international authors, publishers and representatives of cultural institutions Italians at a celebratory dinner at Palazzo Re Enzo, a historic 13th century building in the city of Bologna, Italy.
Prominent UAE dignitaries present at the dinner included Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Government Relations (DGR) in Sharjah, who leads the emirate’s delegation of honored guests at the book fair; Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA); HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), Mauro Felicori, Minister of Culture for the Emilia-Romagna region and Glanpiero Calzolari, Director of BCBF.
The event was an embodiment of the close relationship between Sharjah and Bologna, and was held at the venue where the first edition of BCBF was held 59 years ago. Each table d’hôtes displayed the name of one of Sharjah’s towns or attractions, namely Al Hira, Al Thaid, Al Wosta, Al Sharqan, Khorfakkan, Al Qasba, Flag Island and Al Majaz, among others, with a brief summary of their history, unique characteristics as well as their social, cultural and economic importance.
“Focus on building friendships”
Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimit thanked publishers and publishing industry stakeholders for their resilience and continued focus on building friendships across the world despite the difficult times of the recent past.
Speaking of BCBF, he said, “At the book fair here, I don’t see the partnership but the real friendship between Sharjah and Bologna. I am excited and grateful for the opportunities that lie ahead for us, for our two cities and for the publishing industry. . Together, with other friends around the world, we can protect and nurture the publishing industry, as we focus specifically this week on children’s books.
“The city of Bologna is full of writers, illustrators and publishers. The world of books is clearly booming,” added Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi.
Highlighting the important role of publishers in publishing books that open children’s eyes to the world and help them better understand and appreciate global cultures, the DGR President affirmed that “publishers are shaping a future for our children”. .
“The love of books unites us”
Addressing the dinner guests, Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), said: “I come from the emirate of Sharjah, where we see ourselves as a cultural bridge between the East and the ‘West. To help create a more harmonious world, we encourage and support cultural understanding and dialogue through books, reading and literature”.
The IPA President added: “The written word has always been the bond that connects people around the world, and the love of books is what unites us today. Our cooperation and partnerships will have a huge impact in the publishing scene, then the support and encouragement we give will enhance our capabilities and advance the publishing industry.”
Bodour Al Qasimi continued, “It is on this basis that Sharjah continues its journey to bring its culture and heritage to the world and to build bridges of understanding and dialogue to overcome cultural barriers. Sharjah will always keep its gates. open to welcome the stories and journeys of people from all over the world, allowing our children to discover rich civilizations and expand their knowledge through books and stories.”
For his part, Mauro Felicori, Minister of Culture for the Emilia-Romagna region said: “Even when the pandemic prevented us from physically organizing BCBF, Sharjah did not abandon us. The emirate continued to support us. We have never seen such dedication to culture and communication, to building partnerships and supporting the book industry. Sharjah’s participation here reflects the importance of its cultural project; its guest of honor activities take place in all the schools of Bologna through workshops and shows on heritage. It was amazing and very important for us in Italy.
Affirming the importance of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in uniting industry players and strengthening cultural relationships, Gianpiero Calzolari, Director of BCBF, said: “This international event serves as a global cultural ambassador for our region. This has enabled us to establish close bilateral relations and strengthen friendships with major international cultural institutions as well as global cities like Sharjah. Through BCBF, we promote the continued growth of the publishing industry globally.