Shar­jah an Emi­rati model of cul­tural suc­cess for the world

The Gulf Today - - HOME/WORLD -

Dur­ing Shar­jah’s re­cent par­tic­i­pa­tion as guest of hon­our at the 27th New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF), where I was hon­oured to lead the del­e­ga­tion, my eyes would of­ten ix­ate on the fol­low­ing ti­tle dis­played at the Shar­jah pavil­ion at NDWBF - ‘Shar­jah World Book Cap­i­tal 2019’. In an op-ed piece , Sheikh Fahim

Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man of Shar­jah’s Depart­ment of Gov­ern­ment Re­la­tions wrote, I would ind my­self read­ing these words over and over again, fea­tur­ing at one of the most prom­i­nent in­ter­na­tional cul­tural events in the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent, and each let­ter, to me rep­re­sented a mile­stone in the UAE’S jour­ney, es­pe­cially on the cul­tural front. Our na­tion’s cul­tural jour­ney is deeply rooted in hu­man her­itage more than four decades old.

The unique char­ac­ter­is­tics of the Emi­rati hu­man her­itage at­tained new mean­ing when the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, our found­ing fa­ther, es­tab­lished the Union. His wis­dom chal­lenged the con­ven­tional bound­aries of time, and led to the for­ma­tion of a na­tion that is as am­bi­tious to lead the fu­ture as it is to pre­serve its ex­cep­tional cul­tural past.

So, it is no coin­ci­dence that Shar­jah was en­trusted with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of car­ry­ing the World Book Cap­i­tal ti­tle this year by the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tiic and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNESCO). UNESCO’S in­ter­na­tional eval­u­a­tion stan­dards take into con­sid­er­a­tion the mer­its and achieve­ments of a city’s cul­tural move­ment. Cities that have been awarded this pres­ti­gious ti­tle, have all had a his­tory of pro­mot­ing read­ing in all its forms to their pop­u­la­tion, en­cour­aged in­no­va­tive ways to de­velop a knowl­edge­based so­ci­ety, and of course, ex­tended un­com­pro­mised sup­port to the books in­dus­try.

Shar­jah’s long-stand­ing achieve­ments in fos­ter­ing a cul­ture of read­ing in the UAE and its abil­ity to lead new ini­tia­tives to meet the chal­lenges of lit­er­ary cre­ation within the na­tion and be­yond, were in­stru­men­tal to bring­ing this hon­our home.

The emi­rate is now the irst city in the Gulf, the third in the Arab re­gion, and 19th glob­ally to re­ceive this award.

Shar­jah has suc­cess­fully built on a strong and dis­tinc­tive Emi­rati cul­ture born from its parental Ara­bic roots. Its unique iden­tity has evolved and lour­ished over time through our in­ter­ac­tions with other cul­tures, given the UAE is a sec­ond home to peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing dozens of cul­tural back­grounds from around the world.

At a time when bor­ders don’t re­ally ex­ist and im­port­ing ideas is eas­ier than cre­at­ing them, Shar­jah and the UAE have stayed true to their na­tional cul­tural move­ment by giv­ing ut­most im­por­tance to authen­tic­ity.

Herein lies the im­por­tance of the cul­tural vi­sion of His High­ness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Muham­mad Al Qasimi, Mem­ber of the Supreme Coun­cil and Ruler of Shar­jah. His quest to nur­ture and sup­port an Emi­rati so­ci­ety that reads as a mat­ter of daily habit, and has great in­ter­est in pre­serv­ing the Arab his­tory has led to peo­ple as­sum­ing such roles to fur­ther the na­tion’s cul­tural jour­ney.

In­di­vid­u­als who un­der­stand their own roots are more ca­pa­ble of re­lat­ing to and ac­cept­ing other cul­tures. Only through a path of knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing can we build bridges be­tween cul­tures and peo­ple, and pave the way for a bright and peace­ful fu­ture.

The cul­tural project of Sheikh Sultan be­gan 40 years ago has a clear em­pha­sis on safe­guard­ing na­tional iden­tity and boost­ing our lo­cal cul­ture. It aligns with the UAE Cen­ten­nial Plan 2071, as ev­i­denced by the achieve­ments and awards picked up by Shar­jah on its jour­ney to sup­port the eco­nomic and sci­en­tiic strides our na­tion, which are looked-up to glob­ally.

Shar­jah, as the New Delhi World Book Fair’s guest of hon­our, was a sym­bol of pride for the whole na­tion. It is an afir­ma­tion of the world’s recog­ni­tion of all of our cul­tural ef­forts – be it in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Shar­jah, Aj­man, Fu­jairah, Ras Al Khaimah, or Umm Al Quwain. It is a recog­ni­tion of ev­ery Emi­rati, who is proud of their her­itage, their iden­tity, and is illed with re­spect for other cul­tures.

Shar­jah World Book Cap­i­tal 2019 ti­tle is the Emi­rates’ model of cul­tural suc­cess for the world. It is the cu­mu­la­tion of count­less ini­tia­tives and projects en­vi­sioned and launched by The Ruler of Shar­jah to ad­dress to­day’s chal­lenges and those we fore­see in the fu­ture. These ef­forts are the very essence of na­tion-build­ing in the UAE - es­tab­lished on the ba­sis of knowl­edge, cul­ture and di­a­logue.

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