The Ruler of Sharjah officially accepted the Unesco World Book Capital title for the emirate during the grand ceremony at Al Majaz Amphitheatre on Tuesday (April 23) night.
His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, led the celebration that coincided with World Book Day, expressing how honoured and happy he was to represent the vision of the world’s forefathers, scientists and thinkers: “to fill the libraries of the world with knowledge.shining a light on the path of humanity and leaving us a human legacy that we are proud of”.
“It is a great honour to follow in their footsteps. To embrace books and knowledge as a tool to build, not destroy. a tool to nurture love, brotherhood and tolerance,” Sheikh Sultan said.
“I cannot fully express my happiness to be present here, as we offer a grand welcome to Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 celebrations.”
Sheikh Sultan received the World Book Capital 2019 title from Ernesto Ottone R., assistant director-general of Unesco; Markos Bolaris, deputy minister of foreign affairs, Greece; and Fiona Andrikopoulou, communication and public relation advisor for Athens
The Ruler said that with the World Book Capital title, Sharjah’s reading and knowledge drive achieves a “new meaning”.
“This title will encourage us to continue supporting initiatives aimed at spreading knowledge and building civilisations, thus making Sharjah a cradle of the Arab and Islamic cultural and intellectual renaissance.
“There is so much more to accomplish. The production of knowledge never stops, and the development of life continues. Rest assured that Sharjah is prepared to continue on this journey, and God willing, our devoted sons and daughters will continue our march to make Sharjah a true beacon of science and knowledge – a destination for everyone thirsty for culture, for thought and the sciences.”
Besides crowning Sharjah as this year’s World Book Capital, the ceremony also kicked off a year-long cultural extravaganza in the emirate, with a long list of book-themed events and activities all lined up.
Taking the stage, Ottone R. congratulated Sheikh Sultan and the emirate for developing an impressive World Book Capital programme to celebrate “the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding, dialogue and tolerance”.
“Sharjah was selected by Unesco and its partners for your unwavering commitment to promoting intercultural dialogue through books and reading. Your programme ‘Open Books – Open Minds’ is designed to reach out to marginalised populations, promoting books as a driver of social inclusion, creativity and mutual respect,” he said.
“I know that this spirit of inclusion and dialogue will guide all of Sharjah’s activities as World Book Capital,” Ottone R. added.
As part of the inauguration ceremony, Sheikh Sultan, along with all the officials at the event, witnessed the world premiere of 1001 Nights: The Last Chapter, which has been dubbed the biggest and grandest stage adaptation of the One Thousand and One Nights folktale.