Sharjah: Extending Arab culture to the world


SHARJAH, 15th June, 2019 (WAM) — The Emirate of Sharjah has witnessed a significant number of achievements in 2019, among them is its ever-growing vibrant cultural scene bringing together Emirati and Arab artists, actors, literary greats and poets.


Sharjah’s efforts to bolster the Arab world’s cultural prowess is not tied to a specific geographic location but spans diverse areas to build bridges of communication and understanding, as a key weapon against ignorance and extremism.


The emirate’s cultural achievements have extended beyond the borders of the UAE and the region and have reached out to the rest of the world, due to the efforts, spanning over four decades, of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.


As the 2019 UNESCO World Book Capital, Sharjah participated as a guest of honour in the New Delhi and Toronto book festivals and will join as a guest of honour in the London Book Fair in 2020.


In May 2019, Sharjah gathered renowned Emirati writers to showcase the UAE’s literary heritage during the first Emirati Book Fair. Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority, in cooperation with the Emirates Writers Union, the Emirati Book Fair, witnessed the participation of 25 UAE publishing houses, as well as many Emirati authors, writers and talents. The Fair was an opportunity to document modern Emirati literature and promote the biographies of the Founding Fathers. Dr. Sheikh Sultan’s patronage of the Fair supported the country’s publishing sector.


On the sidelines of the Fair, the Emirati Writers Museum, set up in cooperation with the Juma Al Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage, featured a rare collection of books and poems and highlighted the works of renowned Emirati writers, like Al Majdi bin Dhaher, Hamid Al Shamsi and Salem Al Owais. Their manuscripts, pens and quills, considered UAE national treasures, were also displayed at the museum.


The emirate launched in June a creative writing programme that seeks to further support young Emirati talents in novel writing, poetry and theatre. It also hosted the 17th Sharjah Festival for Arab Poetry, the Islamic Arts Festival and the Folklore Poetry Festival, as part of its continued efforts to cultivate knowledgeable and culturally rich mindsets.


The general public has adopted Sharjah’s passion for culture with most cultural events hosted by the emirate witnessing considerable participation. Among them is ‘Souq Al Shanasiyah’, one of the oldest markets in the region, located in the centre of the City of Sharjah, that features travelling fairs and international and local folklore shows.


Another feat attained was when Dr. Sheikh Sultan received a gold medal from the International Organisation of Folk Art, IOV World, in recognition of his efforts to support culture, art and heritage around the world, and in appreciation of his role in supporting global cultural organisations, as well as for establishing international heritage and cultural centres.


Sharjah’s leading cultural stature has positively contributed to the UAE’s global cultural position and has enhanced the reputation of Arab culture and heritage among individuals and intellectuals from around the world.


While participating in the New Delhi and Toronto book festivals, Sharjah showcased Arab culture, literature and arts to a new and diverse audience. This participation resulted in the translation of Arabic language literary works into other languages, further expanding the region’s cultural dexterity to several nations abroad.


Since the year commenced, Sharjah has held a diverse array of cultural events and exhibitions, including Sharjah Heritage Days, and the 17th Sharjah Arabic Poetry Festival, and the 15th Folklore Poetry Festival, organised by the Department of Culture and the Sharjah Folklore Poetry Centre, in which 60 poets from 17 Arab countries participated.


Another event, the Sharjah Culture and People Festival took place in April, under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, and wife of Dr. Sheikh Sultan. The festival featured 25 activities and events related to heritage, health, sports, poetry, books, cultural competitions, writing, music and cooking. A photo exhibition, titled, “Tolerance,” took place on the event’s sidelines, intending to promote tolerance, acceptance and openness through vivid images.


Sharjah’s vibrant cultural scene has received positive fanfare, backed by the growing interaction and participation of members of the community and visitors during fairs and exhibitions hosted by the emirate. A promising prospect is the increased engagement of the youth, highlighting the core objectives of Sharjah’s cultural and knowledge building endeavours to create strong foundations for future generations.