His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, witnessed the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) identity launch held at Sharjah Expo Centre on the sidelines of the 7th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival.
Other dignitaries present at the ceremony included Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Community Development, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and CEO of Kalimat Group, Dr Lana Mamkegh, the Jordanian Culture Minister, and Egyptian Culture Minister Dr Abdul Wahid Al Nabawi, as well as a number of heads of government departments and media representatives.
In his speech, HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, SBA Chairman, said: “The Emirate of Sharjah has a rich cultural heritage – with historical monuments and landmarks that stand as living testimonies to its prolific history and cultural legacy being passed on from one generation to another thanks to its outstanding leaders throughout the past; the builders of the UAE’s renaissance who have sculpted the Emirate of Sharjah into a choice destination of writers, poets, intellectuals and all lovers of the written word.
Al Ameri revealed that Al Qasimiya Library, which is located in Al Hisn City, was established in 1925 and is one of the most significant historical landmarks that documented Sharjah’s cultural history, reflecting the interest of the first generation of Sharjah’s rulers in culture and philosophy, as well as their devotion to develop cultural and literary works and support authors and intellectuals. “His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah has established educational institutions, research centers, cultural monuments and museums which embrace the heritage of his ancestors. He has collected an array of valuable manuscripts which has been carefully revised and rearranged to become a wellspring of knowledge and reference for researchers and people interested in different fields of knowledge,” Al Ameri added.
The SBA Chairman pointed out that the launch of the identity of Sharjah Book Authority falls within the translation of the vision of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, who believes that the journey towards knowledge begins with nurturing one’s mind with culture and knowledge with the main source being literature.
Al Ameri highlighted that the Sharjah Book Authority would be a substantial platform for the book and publishing industry in the UAE, and for the region as a whole.
The SBA Chairman divulged that the Authority’s new identity involves the launch of Sharjah book city, which will be the first publishing free zone in the world that will offer all professionals and stakeholders in the book and publishing industry the opportunity to benefit from package privileges to boost the publishing sector and help develop it further.
The Sharjah Book Authority will also establish the first international distribution company in the Middle East offering services that cover both the Arab and African markets. Besides possessing its own printing press, the SBA will additionally set up a special Department for research and academic studies. All public libraries in Sharjah will be categorized within the Department of Libraries that fall under the umbrella of the SBA, so as to be a fountainhead of renewed knowledge for researchers and students in the UAE and other countries.
SBA is presently the umbrella for most publishing activities in Sharjah, most notably the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) which most recently won the Market Focus Achievement Award as part of the 2015 International Excellence Awards at this year’s London Book Fair. It will also preside over the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival and the SIBF Translation Grant, and will furthermore organise the Professional Programme for publishers (the first free training programme for Arab publishers), as well as a joint conference with the American Library Association (ALA).
Concluding, Al Ameri recalled the inspiring incident when His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, being a mere 12 years old at the time, pledged his beloved gold dagger to buy a book in his search for knowledge and science. He emphasized that Sharjah’s ship will continue to sail to shores of knowledge and science, captained by the first patron and advocate of culture and intellectuals – His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah.
The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) was established by Emiri decree No.13 of 2013, issued by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. Under that decree, SBA is a corporate body with personal autonomy and enjoys full legal capacity that mandates it to carry out all kinds of legal actions necessary to achieve its objectives.
The Sharjah Book Authority aims to develop the regional printing and publishing sector and support the significant role of writers who bring to light technological advancements and the availability of various sources of information.
*The press release and the pics are issued from His Highness’s Sheikh Sultan AlQassimi’s media office – Sharjah Media Center