Sharjah's helping build a strong image of the region

Only societies with strong cultural backgrounds can withstand propaganda of such groups.

By Mustafa Al Zarooni

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Published: Wed 8 May 2019, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 May 2019, 9:59 PM

The Middle East is mired in conflicting ideas, regional beliefs and identities. Several countries and parties are involved, manipulating and exploiting the region for their own interests.
Such conflict of ideas divide not just the region but the people, too, resulting in the creation of several radical movements that sometimes evolve into groups such as Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood that function under the pretext of charitable groups.
Only societies with strong cultural backgrounds can withstand propaganda of such groups. People are taught  to reject extremists ideas and fight harmful activities.
Inculcating the habit of reading helps build strong societies, where people have an open mind and are more tolerant towards each other. Sharjah, the 2019 World Book Capital, is thus a lighthouse promoting the culture of reading among its people.
His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, believes that books and knowledge are tools for building societies, not destroying them and they should be seen as tools of giving and of love and fraternity, not of hate and extremism.
"For many years, Sharjah has worked with sincerity to create an exceptional state of love for books and knowledge," said Sheikh Sultan.
I recall the time when he met us  journalists, and talked about the importance of awareness-building among people, to protect them from manipulating minds.
I believe in the saying, "If you believe everything you read, then don't read." A mind should be open, open to everything that is new, without judging or allowing all ideas to control them.
According to me, this is the biggest problem Muslims and Arabs faced in the 1980s and 90s.
Sheikh Sultan is working towards building an inclusive society welcoming people from different countries, ethnicities and religions to live together in harmony, all the while protecting the emirate's unique Arabic and Islamic identity.
Sharjah has played a vital role on the international platform when it comes to books and promoting the love of reading by participating in book fairs held in different capitals around the world including Paris and Sao Paulo, New Delhi, Moscow, Madrid and London.
A caravan of intellectuals attend such fairs carrying along with them their culture and their books even as they interact and exchange ideas and knowledge through cultural seminars and workshops.
While at Turin to attend such a book fair, I noticed that Arabs form a large part of its population. The city has a culture very similar to ours, and also hosts the second largest museum of Egyptology, after Egypt.
Events and initiatives organised by Sharjah around the culture of learning and reading will help build a strong image of the people in our country and the region.

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