Sharjah’s presence in Greece testifies to its cultural importance

Sharjah’s presence in Greece testifies to its cultural importance

Sharjah24: Officials from Sharjah’s governmental, semi-governmental and private sectors have stated that the emirate being chosen as Guest of Honour (GoH) for the 20th edition of the Thessaloniki International Book Fair (TIBF) not only highlights the emirate’s rich cultural identity but also bolsters its position as a prominent hub of creativity and knowledge in the UAE and beyond.
Sharjah’s participation, led by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), from May 16-19, represents an important milestone in the emirate’s cultural accomplishments, reaffirming its active role in enhancing cross-cultural exchange. 

SBA will be at the helm of a diverse GoH programme representing Arab and Emirati culture and heritage, solidifying Sharjah’s reputation as a cultural and literary centre for the region and the world. Through a range of events in literature, art and philosophy, SBA will pave the way for enhanced collaboration with Greek cultural institutions.

Profound dialogue between two civilisations

HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, CEO of SBA, noted that Sharjah’s designation as the Guest of Honour at the Thessaloniki International Book Fair signifies a profound exchange between two civilisations with extensive histories spanning millennia. He stated that this event not only honours Sharjah and its cultural pursuits but also pays tribute to the three millennia of Arab cultural legacy, showcasing its enduring impact on literature, art, architecture, music, and innovation. These contributions continue to embolden under the cultural vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who has championed knowledge and literature as pillars of society and as conduits for promoting dialogue and understanding among diverse cultures.

He said: “As we stand here in the heart of Greece, under the stewardship of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of SBA, we reflect on the history of interactions and cultural exchanges between Arab, Emirati, and Greek civilisations. We celebrate the profound impact of knowledge and beauty in forging resilient bonds of communication that surpass time, geographic borders and linguistic barriers. We acknowledge the significant contribution of Greek civilisation to the shared narrative of humanity. The artefacts housed in our museums stand testament to the extraordinary accomplishments of Greek scholars, innovators, and artists, whose legacies continue to shape the course of humankind.”

A preferred destination for travellers

Commenting on their participation, HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), said: “Sharjah’s global cultural status greatly contributes to promoting the emirate and its capabilities in all sectors, especially tourism. Throughout history, the cultural identity of nations has been a major attraction for tourists, allowing them to learn more about the civilisation, customs, traditions, and historical landmarks.”

Al Midfa added: “Through our participation in the book fair, we aim to introduce the diverse destinations Sharjah has to offer, including cultural, historical, and environmental sites. We also aim to highlight the emirate’s features, competitiveness, and the many promising opportunities that have made Sharjah a preferred destination for tourists, investors, entrepreneurs, and intellects, both on the regional level and globally.”

Reflecting Sharjah’s heritage

HE Dr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH), said: “We are proud to provide visitors with a glimpse into the vibrant culture and heritage of the UAE. Our aim is to showcase our institute’s publications and accomplishments, as well as traditional Emirati handicrafts, such as doll-making and Tali embroidery alongside Emirati fashion, jewellery, and other artisanal crafts that represent the region’s rich heritage and local culture.”

“We are also presenting live traditional performances by the Sharjah National Band that embody Emirati heritage, strengthen our national identity, and promote the values of belonging. Heritage has the power to create mutual understanding among people and enhances communication between different cultures worldwide.”

A cultural window: Strengthening Emirati-Greek bonds

Dr. Sultan Al Amimi, Chairman of the Emirates Writers Union, stated that their participation as part of the emirate’s delegation is a significant opportunity to promote their activities internationally. He emphasized that Sharjah’s role as Guest of Honor (GoH) strengthens cultural exchange and cooperation between Emirati, Arab, and Greek cultures in an event celebrating literature and fostering intellectual dialogue across various humanities fields, highlighting the deep historical ties between Arab and Greek cultures. The Chairman noted that several new Emirati publications had been translated into Greek, including ‘The Road That Takes Me,’ a poetry collection by Khulood Al Mualla; ‘Fentlitor,’ a novel by Mariam Masoud Al Shihi; ‘Mass,’ a poetry collection by Ibrahim Al Hashemi; ‘Konar,’ a novel by Hind Saif Al Bari; ‘Elegy of Cities and Kingdoms between Baghdad and Al-Andalus,’ by Dr. Mariam Al Hashemi; ‘The Two Sisters,’ a short story collection by Ali Al Abdan; ‘Presence of the Absent,’ by poet Abdullah A
l Sabbab; ‘Dhawat,’ a novel by Dr. Zainab Al Yasi; and ‘Staring,’ a poetry collection by Mohammed Al Khalidi. He added that Sharjah’s cultural program highlights both established and emerging Emirati talents in creative and intellectual production.

University of Sharjah highlights its academic excellence at TIBF

Hamid Al-Naimiy, Chancellor of the University of Sharjah (UOS), expressed his pleasure at the UOS’s participation in Sharjah’s pavilion. He emphasised the university’s role in promoting Sharjah’s scientific and academic achievements across all fields, as well as highlighting its strong international relations with prestigious universities and academic institutions. Al-Naimiy stated that the UOS will showcase its departments, programs, scientific publications, magazines, and books that are aligned with the theme of this significant cultural event.

A new dawn of cultural relations between East and West

Dr. Mohamed Safi Al Mosteghanemi, Secretary-General of the Arabic Language Centre, said: “Sharjah’s celebration as Guest of Honour marks a new dawn in cultural relations between the East and the West. This participation signifies the beginning of a blessed era of cultural exchange between two great civilisations that have greatly enriched humanity’s journey through the ages.”

“It ushers in a new era of prosperity in global relations, built upon cultural and intellectual understanding. This reflects Sharjah’s important role in promoting education and knowledge, while also strengthening the Arabic language as a conduit for communication and dialogue among diverse cultures. This effort aligns with the vision of His Highness, the Ruler of Sharjah, to position the emirate as a beacon of culture and literature, and a leader in global dialogue based on shared human knowledge,” Al Mosteghanemi added.

Invaluable opportunity for intergenerational communication

While participating in Sharjah’s cultural programme in Greece, Marwa Al Aqroubi, Executive Director of the House of Wisdom (HoW), stated that Sharjah’s GoH participation is a recognition of the emirate’s efforts in achieving cultural prosperity on a global scale. She noted that this honour is the culmination of multiple initiatives the emirate has launched to nurture the cultural landscape and promote cross-cultural communication.

Recognition of Sharjah’s contributions

HE Aisha Rashid Dimas, Director-General of the Sharjah Museums Authority, said the participation as part of the Sharjah pavilion is a valuable opportunity to exhibit Sharjah’s rich history and vibrant contemporary cultural scene on a global stage. She noted that the authority will showcase ten catalogues from various exhibitions and features significant artefacts, including replicas of Horse bridle fittings from the Mleiha area dating back to 150-200 BC, Pearl beads from a Neolithic cemetery in Jebel Al-Buhais, among others.

The interaction between Arab and Greek cultures 

Speaking of their participation, HE Fahd Al Maamari, Chairman of the Emirates Library and Information Association, stated: “In celebration of Sharjah’s GoH status, the association will host a lecture covering the interaction between Arab and Greek cultures and their integration in thought, research, and authorship. It explores how literary works have preserved the scientific impact produced by both civilisations and showcases examples of scientific communication and its integration through various works, as well as the biographies of scientists and translators.”

11 Roman archaeological pieces

For his part, His Excellency Eisa Yousef, Director General of Sharjah Archaeology Authority (SAA), said: “Our participation under the emirate’s banner includes showcasing the latest publications about archaeological discoveries in the emirate. It also includes 11 archaeological pieces from the Roman period linked to Greek civilisation. This exhibition continues our authority’s programmes at local and international forums. It underscores our commitment to highlighting the scientific aspects supporting archaeological studies and research. It also facilitates the exchange of expertise and reinforces the emirate’s presence in various events.”
Showcasing Emirati heritage in Greece

HE Salem Al Ghaithi, Director of Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, said: “During the book fair, the emirate will unlock doors to the ancient Arab civilisation, thereby constructing bridges that convey an Emirati cultural heritage that resonates globally through the Sharjah airwaves. Through our media platforms, we pledge to showcase Sharjah’s cultural accomplishments, translating the vision of the Ruler of Sharjah, who guides the emirate towards new frontiers of creativity and radiance.”

Exploring the art and science of cartography at Sharjah’s pavilion

HE Ali Al Marri, Director General of Dr Sultan Al Qasimi Centre (DARA), stated, “During our participation in the emirate’s GoH pavilion, we will showcase a selection of historic geographical maps, tracing the development of map printing and the increasing provision of information over time. During that era, Europeans played a key role in the development of geographical maps.”

Pioneering culture, thought, and creativity

Rashid Al Kous, Executive Director of the Emirates Publishers Association, stated, “Sharjah’s participation is a testament to the emirate’s pioneering position in culture, thought, and creativity, thanks to the inspiring vision of the Ruler of Sharjah. The book fair presents a distinctive opportunity to showcase the UAE’s rich cultural heritage.”

New addition to Sharjah’s accomplishments

Majd Al Shihhi, Director of the Emirates Reprographic Rights Management Association, affirmed that the Sharjah GoH status at the book fair is another cultural achievement for the emirate, saying, “This role acknowledges the extensive cultural renaissance spearheaded by the Ruler of Sharjah. The event offers a distinctive platform for our association to create awareness about the importance of copyrights in safeguarding writers and publishers while providing an opportunity for us to expand our network of partnerships in this domain.”

Embodiment of a global cultural project

Mohammed Ibrahim Al Qaseer, Director of Cultural Affairs at the Sharjah Department of Culture, said: “Sharjah’s GoH’s status underscores the emirate’s standing in Arab and global culture. Within the Sharjah pavilion, we are featuring books and magazines complemented by an Arabic calligraphy exhibition showcasing works by calligraphers and artists from the region, encompassing both traditional and contemporary styles. To accompany this, we are also hosting an Arabic calligraphy workshop.”

Supporting Refugee Children in Thessaloniki

Reem Jasim, Manager of Special Initiatives at Kalimat Foundation said: “Kalimat Foundation is honoured to be part of the Sharjah delegation. This is a poignant acknowledgement of the Sharjah Cultural Project’s remarkable achievements, underscoring its status and global influence in providing access to knowledge for disadvantaged children, and we are pleased to continue these efforts by donating Arabic language resources for the second time in Greece under our “Pledge a Library” initiative to support refugee children in Thessaloniki.”

Sharjah’s global cultural standing

Speaking on their involvement, Muhannad Abu Saeeda, Director of Al Qasimi Publications, stated, “The GoH status affirms Sharjah’s global cultural standing. This comes as no surprise, as Sharjah, through the tireless efforts of the Ruler of Sharjah, has emerged as a beacon of science, a hub for knowledge, creativity, and innovation.”

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