The UAE once again has a healthy pres­ence at the world’s big­gest lit­er­ary event, writes

The National - News - - ARTS&LIFESTYLE - Saeed Saeed

Dr Sheikh Sul­tan bin Mo­hammed Al Qasimi, the ruler of Shar­jah, has re­turned to the Frank­furt In­ter­na­tional Book Fair to launch his lat­est work, Baby Fa­tima and the King’s Sons, a his­tor­i­cal tale that fol­lows an am­bi­tious young woman liv­ing in the last throes of the Por­tuguese oc­cu­pa­tion of the King­dom of Hor­muz.

Split into three parts – Hor­muz, King Forugh Shah and Prince Firoz Shah – Sheikh Sul­tan said that the novel aimed to pro­vide an in­sight into a tur­bu­lent pe­riod, with an ex­pan­sive cast of char­ac­ters rang­ing from roy­alty to those liv­ing on so­ci­ety’s mar­gins.

The novel’s leisurely prose dis­guises the fact it was writ­ten un­der a tight dead­line. Sheikh Sul­tan says he wrote the novel in six weeks, which were filled with painstak­ing re­search and in­ten­sive writ­ing ses­sions. The end re­sult, he ex­plains, was well worth the ef­fort.

“It wasn’t long ago that I first saw the printed copies of the book,” he says. “In spite of the fact that nov­els re­quire ar­du­ous ef­forts to write and fin­ish, their cre­ators are elated when they see that the fi­nal prod­uct is based on facts and ex­pe­ri­ences that ev­ery reader who picks up the book will be able to learn from and en­joy.”

His book launch is part of the UAE’s in­volve­ment in the world’s big­gest book fair. The five-day event is set to host more than 7,000 ex­hibitors from at least 100 coun­tries, and will wel­come more than 280,000 vis­i­tors.

Once again, the UAE is play­ing an ac­tive role in the event by host­ing a num­ber of pavil­ions, all side-by-side in Hall 5 of the Frank­furt Trade Fair grounds. The big­gest is the spa­cious white and orange Shar­jah Book Au­thor­ity pav­il­ion, which hosts a lec­ture stand, tele­vi­sion screens ad­ver­tis­ing its ini­tia­tives and a se­ries of tables for busi­ness meet­ings. The space is flanked by stands be­long­ing to the Depart­ment of Cul­ture and Tourism Abu Dhabi and the Mo­hammed Bin Rashid Al Mak­toum Knowl­edge Foun­da­tion from Dubai, as well as Shar­jah’s Emi­rates Pub­lish­ers As­so­ci­a­tion.

All of these sta­tions were vis­ited by Sheikh Sul­tan last week. He in­spected the ini­tia­tives each or­gan­i­sa­tion had as part of the event. Shar­jah Book Au­thor­ity’s dozen-strong team have been meet­ing au­thors and pub­lish­ers as part of their fi­nal prepa­ra­tions for the Shar­jah In­ter­na­tional Book Fair, which runs from Oc­to­ber 31 to Novem­ber 10.

“We’ve al­ready had a few meet­ings with pub­lish­ers from var­i­ous coun­tries – par­tic­u­larly those from Africa, such as Ghana and Kenya, who will take part in the Shar­jah Book Fair for the first time,” ex­plains Faisal Al Na­boodah, who looks af­ter the fair’s pub­lish­ing pro­gramme. “A lot of them have never vis­ited the UAE be­fore, so in a way, they do need some spe­cial at­ten­tion and we try to en­sure they have a great time and make the most out of their ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Mean­while, the Emi­rates Pub­lish­ers As­so­ci­a­tion – the body rep­re­sent­ing many of the UAE’s pub­lish­ing houses – also has an ac­tive pro­gramme in Frank­furt.

It hosted a “match-mak­ing” func­tion on Fri­day, which paired Emi­rati pub­lish­ing houses with coun­ter­parts from Brazil – an ini­tia­tive born out of Shar­jah Book Fair’s in­volve­ment as the guest of hon­our at the Sao Paulo Book Fair in Au­gust.

“Brazil is a very big mar­ket, and these ses­sions are about buy­ing and sell­ing copy­right and trans­la­tions of works from the UAE to Brazil­ian pub­lish­ers and vice versa,” ex­plains spokesper­son Mariam Al Obaidli. “We have more than 10 UAE pub­lish­ers tak­ing part, and we are very happy about that.”

De­spite the emi­rate’s heavy pres­ence at the Frank­furt In­ter­na­tional Book Fair, which also in­cludes rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Shar­jah Pub­lish­ing City, all of the bod­ies are united in the aim of rep­re­sent­ing the lit­er­a­ture scene of not only the UAE, but the wider re­gion in gen­eral. “This is one of the im­por­tant things that Sheikh Sul­tan has en­cour­aged us to do,” Al Na­boodah says.

“It is not just about en­cour­ag­ing the Emi­rati en­ti­ties, but all of the Arab or­gan­i­sa­tions par­tic­i­pat­ing here. They are all happy to see, meet and hear him talk about the im­por­tance of books, and what we are all do­ing at home and abroad.”

We have more than 10 UAE pub­lish­ers tak­ing part and we are very happy about that MARIAM AL OBAIDLI Spokes­woman, Emi­rates Pub­lish­ers As­so­ci­a­tion

Pho­tos Shar­jah Me­dia Cor­po­ra­tion

Dr Sheikh Sul­tan bin Mo­hammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Shar­jah, left, penned ‘Baby Fa­tima and the King’s Sons’, above, in six weeks

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