The falling temperatures in New Delhi had no effect on the warmth and hospitality extended to Sharjah, as the guest of honour of the 27th New Delhi World Book Fair, NDWBF 2019, by the fair organizers, National Book Trust, NBT, and other local dignitaries in attendance at the opening ceremony today.
Members of the Sharjah delegation comprising representatives from all entities of Sharjah's cultural program at NDWBF 2019 were represented on stage by Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations, who is heading this delegation, and Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority, SBA; and renowned Emirati author, Habib Yousef Abdullah Al Sayegh.
They were welcomed by senior Indian officials and cultural representatives, Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Govt. of India; Baldev Bhai Sharma, Chairman, NBT; R. Subramaniam, Secretary, Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development; and Deepak Kumar, Executive Director, India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO), and felicitated with several NBT publications, mementos and traditional shawls.
English and Hindi translations of one of the most renowned works by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Baby Fatima and the King's Sons, published by NBT, were released by the trust at the opening ceremony and presented to officials from Sharjah.
Stressing on the long history of friendship and flourishing cultural relations between the two nations, Sheikh Fahim remarked, "Being amongst you all at the New Delhi World Book Fair, a major calendar event in the publishing world, I know we have come a long way in realizing the Sharjah Ruler's vision of bringing cultures together through books and knowledge exchange. I thank National Book Trust for offering us the 'guest of honour' privilege, recognizing Sharjah's leading role in the Arab region's cultural renaissance. We are excited to turn this opportunity into a memorable literary and cultural feast straight from the heart of Sharjah and the UAE, for all of the book fair's participants and visitors."
"The most inspiring success stories are written by countries who celebrate diversity, respect opposing opinions and make the most of each other's expertise. In facilitating these exchanges, the importance of book fairs cannot be overemphasized. I am extremely proud to announce that President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has declared 2019 to be the 'Year of Tolerance', which will further embolden our role in promoting multiculturalism as an enabler of stability and prosperity across all nations in the world," he added mentioning the two million Indian expatriates who have made the UAE and Sharjah their second home.
Expressing his delight at Sharjah's participation at NDWBF 2019, the NBT Chairman said in his welcome note, "We are deeply honoured to welcome this year's special guest, Sharjah. I thank the honourable senior officials present here on stage as well as the entire Sharjah delegation comprising authors, literary experts, poets and leading cultural entities, to have made their long journey to be part of our celebration of books, culture, and knowledge � the pillars of human development, peace and continued progress."
"Due to the ongoing refurbishment works at the original fair venues, we have faced several challenges with both organization and space, but despite it all, we have been able to put up a wonderful show due to the unconditional support offered to us by everyone. Sharjah's participation is going to be savoured by book lovers and cultural enthusiasts from all over India and the region. The last edition welcomed 1.2 million visitors, a number I am certain will be surpassed this year because the love for books in Indian hearts will never fade," he added.
Baldev Sharma revealed that more than 25 different regional Indian and international languages are contained within books available at the stalls that have been brought to attract regional language readers from the smaller districts and interiors of the nation. This effort he said has been furthered by Sharjah which has brought Hindi translations of 57 Arabic language books by Emirati and Arab authors.
Prakash Javadekar emphasized the importance of book fairs saying life is incomplete without books and culture. "Reading is integral to human development, something clear in the way Sharjah has been leading their socioeconomic development and community welfare. The real friendship and partnership between India the UAE, Sharjah particularly, is exhibited in the emirate's participation and our joint effort that has gone into the organization of this important literary event."
"When television entered homes, books felt threatened. A few years later, Kindle came into fashion, and we thought books will no longer be bought or read. But, no matter how technology progresses or reading habits change, books will always remain at the center of the promotion of culture and knowledge."
Running until 13th January, 2019, the NDWBF 2019 theme is "Books for Readers with Special Needs". Over 1,350 exhibits, 20 countries and 650 publishers, are on display at the fair.
Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs