Revealed: Sharjah’s Guest of Honour agenda at Thessaloniki International Book Fair 2024 in Greece

Artwork depicting the upcoming Guest of Honour pavilion of Sharjah at the book fair, which runs May 16 to 19
Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Sharjah will be celebrated as the Guest of Honour at the Thessaloniki International Book Fair 2024 in Greece from May 16 to 19.

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During the Fair, the emirate – the first city from the Arab world to be bestowed this honour – will showcase the history and culture of the UAE and the wider region. Sharjah will pave the way for publishers, translation, and publishing houses to share ideas and collaborate through more than 25 events convening Emirati authors and cultural, academic, and literary entities.

This complements a series of recognitions that the emirate witnessed over the past decade, where Sharjah was celebrated as the Guest of Honour at some of the largest and most important international book fairs in Latin America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

With the participation of many cultural and tourist entities from Sharjah, the emirate will organise an extensive agenda. This includes a series of workshops, book signings, panel discussions, and a host of literary and artistic performances that showcase the aesthetics of authentic Emirati heritage, values, and arts.

Philosophers’ words as paintings

In celebration of philosophy, which has always been present and impactful in both Greek and Arab cultures, the SBA is presenting an exhibition themed ‘Philosophies: Visual Simulation’ at Sharjah’s pavilion at the event. It is an artistic project that draws inspiration from the words of renowned Greek and Arab philosophers who mastered thinking and writing in Arabic and Greek. A host of Emirati and Greek painters, including Nasser Nasrallah, Rashid Al Mulla, Alia Al Hammadi, Daniela Stemtiadi, Vassilios Grivas, and Antonios Nikolopolis will collaborate to translate philosophical words, expressions and meanings into expressive paintings.

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Panel discussions, live performances

Sharjah’s programme at the book fair encompasses a series of panel discussions and live performances. A panel themed ‘Emerging Literature and Future Challenges’ addresses the current times of emerging literature in the UAE and Greece, and a second panel highlights the ‘Cultural Connections between Arabs and Greece’, while another session discusses the ‘Challenges of the Short Story in the Time of the Novel’. A host of Emirati and Arab poets will come together in ‘Poetic Meeting’, whereas a cultural session will address ‘The Impact of Greek Philosophy on Literature’.

Sharjah’s participation will see a number of heritage, creative and musical performances, along with Henna sessions, savouring Emirati traditional cuisine, book signing ceremonies, and Arabic calligraphy. Special exhibitions will showcase art collections and artefacts that exemplify Arab identity and culture.

Cultural bridge

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), said: “This occasion reminds us of the significance of shared cultural heritage, and serves as the catalyst for a constructive global dialogue. We take immense pride in Sharjah’s role as a bridge between cultures. Indeed, Sharjah has long been celebrated as a beacon of Emirati and Arab identity, and we remain committed to fostering robust cross-cultural communication that transcends borders.”

SBA CEO Ahmed Al Ameri said: “Sharjah has emerged as a benchmark of excellence in organising book fairs worldwide, setting a standard for the industry. Our pioneering approach is driving innovation and growth in the content creation sector, fostering an environment conducive to publishers’ success.”

Ahmed Al Ameri

He added: “Through esteemed book awards, international platforms, and conferences, we are enhancing the efficacy of booksellers, distributors, literary agents, and other experts in the cultural and creative industries”, he further noted.