Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri: “Culture can unite us all” | Atalaya

The 41st edition of the International Book Fair will close on 13 November. Hundreds of journalists from all over the world talk about this great literary showcase that brings together 2,213 publishers from 95 countries. Thousands of people visit the Sharjah Expo Center every day and take part in its interesting and intense program of activities (lectures, round tables, recitals, workshops, theater, music, signatures, storytelling, etc.) intended for all audiences . In 2021, the number of visitors reached 1.6 million, a figure that should be surpassed this year.

PHOTO / ANTONIA CORTES – Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri, President of the Sharjah Book Authority

Founded in 1982 by the ruler of Sharjah, Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, it is organized by the Book Authority, chaired by Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri, with whom Atalayar, along with four other journalists, was able to speak. The role of culture “in bringing people together”, the importance of this fair, the most important in the Arab world, “which grows every year”, and which creates “close ties with cultures around the world”the evolution of this event, the initiatives undertaken to encourage children to read, the relationships established with many countries, such as Spain, guest of honor last year, and more particularly with the Casa Árabe in Madrid and Cordoba, and his next guest of honor participation at another prestigious international fair, the Guadalajara fair in Mexico, were some of the topics covered during this meeting.

Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri
PHOTO / ANTONIA CORTES – The 41st edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair

Culture as a Union

The emirate of Sharjah is strongly committed to culture, with large investments and considerable effort, it is also known as the “capital of culture”. Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri proudly speaks about this fair, which began four decades ago and has become the largest in the world in terms of copyright trading in 2022, and arguably the most important in the Arab world. He also speaks of the importance of the spoken word, spread for millennia, “we are very oral”, he says, recalling the origin and the tribes and expressing how they spread the word of knowledge, information, love, peace. .. “Culture can unite us all, without borders of religion or politics”.

And this is one of their missions, to try to spread and explain their culture to the world, as they did when they were invited to Spain, Brazil and now they will do in Guadalajara (Mexico).

As for the evolution of this fair, the president of the Authority of the Book is confident that it will grow also in this edition and wanted to differentiate this fair from the others as “it is based on relationships rather than business or money”. It is a fair of exchange, of being face to face. In this sense, he recalls the Conference of Arab Publishers, which is also held in these days, and which has seen the number of participants increase to more than a thousand.

Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri
PHOTO / ANTONIA CORTES – The 41st edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair

Sharjah’s support for the publishing industry is more than a reality, hence the injection of 4.5 million dirhams that the emirate ruler has allocated to publishers, the large investment he made in the purchase of books for a total of 10 million dirhams, and the opening of the book fair after the pandemic, the first in the world. “Governments have a great responsibility in spreading knowledge and supporting publishing,” says this great defender of culture.

What is clear is that Sharjah, its International Book Fair, is growing year after year and reaches the whole world.. Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri does not hesitate to affirm that the fair “opens the doors to the West to meet Africa, India, Asia … Our fair is not European, it is not American … it is international”. And speaking of Africa, after the questions of two journalists from this continent, he explains how in this meeting there are more than 25 African authors and the support of his emirate for Africa, for African publishers, so that ‘they can continue to develop , so that the market can expand, so that they can read, and not only in Arabic-speaking countries, but also in the south or even in the east of the continent.

Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri
PHOTO / ANTONIA CORTES – The 41st edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair

Appreciating literature, establishing close ties with cultures around the world, supporting translations and exchanging knowledge and cultural heritages are some of the other messages that the President of the Book Authority launched during this cordial and responsive.

encourage reading

We were also interested in the extensive program of activities for children and teens, not only to encourage them to read, but also to bring out their creativity, have fun learning the sciences and raise awareness of the need for a sustainable world.. A program that is not just for children, but for the whole family, says Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri, who reminds them of the need for them to read, retain knowledge and engage in this through, for example, the Reading Festival or the numerous activities carried out outside in public libraries. “The United Arab Emirates was the only country in the world to have a year dedicated to reading,” he said, an initiative that was implemented in 2018.

Sharjah, guest of honor in Guadalajara

Ahmed bin Rakkad also talks about the Guadalajara International Book Fair, Sharjah is the guest of honor of this year’s edition. Sharjah will be represented in the Mexican city by about 200 people, including publishers, writers, artists, musicians … And, of course, a stand full of books, where you will find more than 50 titles translated into Spanish. In this fair, which will open its doors on November 26, not only the United Arab Emirates will be represented, but also “the Arab and cultural tradition”.

Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri
PHOTO / ANTONIA CORTES – The 41st edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair

The chairman of the Book Authority says he has some surprises in store for Latin America, although he leaves them pending because he says he is unable to announce them yet. Costa Rica and Argentina join other countries in the region with which he, he assures him, “we work in close collaboration”.

The 41st edition of the SIBF, with Italy as host country, will end in two days with the satisfaction of a job well done, to see how the interest of the public, exhibitors and authors grows once again, how its corridors are filled with people, schoolchildren of all ages, national and international writers, publishers who exchange experiences and ideas, sale of copyright, dreams and fantasy. An edition that will give way to another full of surprises and which, even if, for the moment, nothing has been announced, is already prepared. We will keep an eye on the news from the “capital of culture”: Sharjah.

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