6th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival to be biggest edition yet
The Management of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) has unveiled details of the 6th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival under the theme “Discover Friends for Life”, set to be the largest ever and scheduled to be held from 15th-25th April at Expo Centre Sharjah.
The Festival is inspired and supported by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and is developed under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.
The details of the 11-day Festival, which will feature more than 1694 events and see the participation of 124 publishing houses from 17 countries, were announced on Monday at the press conference held by the Festival’s management at the Al Qasba theater in Sharjah.
Attending the conference were H.E. Abdullah Mohammed Al Owais, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Information in Sharjah, Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Director of Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), Hind Abdullah Lenaid, General Coordinator of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, and Ahmed Salim, Producer and Director of “1001 Inventions”, as well as local, Arab and regional media representatives.
In his inaugural speech, Abdullah Al Owais said, “The Festival enjoys the continuing sound guidance of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, in line with his sincere desire to create an enlightened and educated younger generation and to equip them with the tools and incentives for creativity, success and excellence. The Festival also enjoys the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.”
He added, “The Festival, which is in its sixth edition, adopts a far-sighted vision in compliance with all His Highness’s requirements, offering a range of events and interactive activities that reflect the diversity of arts, crafts, culture and science. It adopts a carefully planned strategy, emphasizing the importance of study and creativity to younger generations.”
Speaking on the occasion, Ahmed Al Ameri said, “The Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival was conceived with the aim of developing children’s culture, skills and talents, in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. The secondary aim is to engage all parts of the community in the Emirate’s cultural scene.
“Since the first festival in 2006, the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival has always been a very pleasant event that puts smiles on the faces of children in the UAE. It has now established a strong footing and a presence on the calendar as one of the most successful events and exhibitions dedicated to children in the region – indeed, in the world.”
He added, “This year, the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival will see the participation of 124 publishing houses from 17 countries, compared to 80 at the 2013 festival. The UAE will top the list of participating countries with 49 publishing houses, followed by Egypt with 21, Lebanon with 19 and Syria with 11 publishing houses. The 11-day Children’s Reading festival will feature a diverse range of 1694 events and activities, compared to 450 events held during the 2013 Festival.”
The SCRF Director noted the participation in the Festival of an elite group of 95 top writers, intellectuals, artists and academicians from the UAE and abroad. The list of Arab guests includes: Egyptian writer Amal Farah, winner of the UNESCO International Prize for children’s literature in the service of tolerance, Iraqi writer and poet Jalil Khazaal, Bahraini novelist Abdul Qader Aqeel, Egyptian writer and poet Samir Abdul Baqi, Syrian magazine editor Bayan Al Safadi (of Usama magazine), Egyptian writer, novelist and playwright Mahmoud Qassim, Omani writer Aziza Al Tai, and Yemeni illustrator Bushra Al Shahari.
Also, a number of top foreign writers and illustrators will participate in the Festival, most notably artist and writer Andy Stanton, writer of the ‘Mr Gum’ series and winner of the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Blue Peter Book Award for Best Book with Pictures. The list of foreign guests also includes illustrator Tony De Saulles, illustrator of the “Horrible Science” book series and winner of the Blue Peter Book Award for Best Books with Facts, and Fawzia Gilani-williams, expert in children’s literature from Britain’s University of Worcester and author of 40 Islamic story books for children, most notably “Islamic Stories”.
Al Ameri revealed that the Festival will host an award-winning exhibition from the UK based organisation “1001 Inventions”. The interactive exhibition called “1001 Inventions – Discovering Our Past – Inspiring Our Future” aims to highlight a thousand years of scientific and cultural achievements during the Golden Age of Muslim Civilisation. The exhibition will open on 15th April and will continue until 15th May, in order to allow more visitors to experience it. The exhibition highlights achievements made between the 7th and 17th centuries, a period known as the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization, during which inspirational men and women from various faiths worked together and made breakthroughs that helped create the foundations of our modern world.
Ahmed Salim, Producer and Director of 1001 Inventions, said the exhibition is part of a global campaign that has already achieved resounding success and reached over 70 million people around the world through exhibitions, educational programmes, festivals, films, books and other media. Ahmed Salim noted that the exhibition that will be hosted in Sharjah is one of the largest ever produced by 1001 Inventions. At the end of his speech, he thanked their global strategic partner, Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives for their continuous support.
The exhibition will feature a wide range of educational activities that use high-end engagement techniques to suit all members of the family, introducing them to the most important achievement and breakthroughs of Muslim Civilisation in a fun and interactive manner. He further added that by celebrating the creative golden age of Muslim Civilisation, “1001 Inventions” aims to inspire ambition in people to find solutions to the grand societal challenges of today, and to build a better future for the world.
Hind Abdullah Lenaid, General Coordinator of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, said, “The Children’s Reading Festival would not have succeeded and continued without the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Muhammad Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. His Highness and Her Highness seek to develop the cultural, creative and cognitive skills of our children in order to be part of a strong and cohesive society: a generation worthy of a prosperous future and representative of this glorious nation.”
She noted that the children’s events include workshops, reading sessions, theatrical performances, film screenings, painting and writing competitions and educational lectures in addition to a Cultural Programme of lectures and workshops. Some are designed for parents, teachers and professionals in children’s literature, while others are dedicated to children of different ages.
“The Festival will also include art workshops dedicated to developing children’s artistic talents,” she said, “by engaging them in hands-on training in puppet making, calligraphy, painting and much more. To teach the joy and benefits of healthy food, we have designed the ‘Cookery Corner’ which will offer children and their mothers the opportunity to learn about healthy cooking and to share wonderful recipes that can connect family and friends together.”
Lenaid thanked the national organisations which collaborated with the Festival’s Management in organizing some of the events; most notably: the Sharjah Museums Department, Sharjah Educational Zone, Sharjah Cultural Chess Club and the Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan Foundation in Al Ain.
Participants from the UAE include an elite group of prominent literary figures and intellectuals, namely writer Asmaa Al Zarouni, poet Talal Salem, writer and journalist Jameel Al Refai, writer Dr Haidar Wakeel Allah, writer and journalist Mania Sweed, writer and publisher Ali Al Shaali, writer Ayesha Al Kaabi, writer Dr Omar Abdul Aziz and many more.
During the press conference, a group of children performed an entertainment segment supervised by Zaher Al Sousi which included dancing and popular game playing, while other girls distributed chocolates that carry the Festival’s logo among attendees.
On the sidelines of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, the third Sharjah Exhibition for Children’s Book Illustrators will also be held. It will comprise of hundreds of professional artworks and illustrations submitted by 96 professional artists from around the world. During the exhibition the winning works will be announced, selected from the submissions of professional illustrators who competed to win cash prizes worth a total of 21,000 US dollars.
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Aliaa Al Ori