SIBF 2022: Soft power reinforces peaceful cooperation between nations, keeping people away from conflicts

Officials from the UAE and South Korea exchanged views on the impact of technology and social media during ‘Cultural Diplomacy’ on Day 4 of the event


Afkar Ali Ahmed

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Published: Sun 6 Nov 2022, 10:50 PM

Diplomats have unanimously stressed the significance of enhanced dialogue, education and understanding to pave the path for the peaceful co-existence of nations at the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) 2022.

In a session titled ‘Cultural Diplomacy’ on Day 4 of the event, moderated by Dubai TV host Manal Al Katib, officials from the UAE and South Korea exchanged views on subjects varying from soft power to the impact of technology and social media.

Abdalla Hassan Al Shamsi, UAE Ambassador to the Republic of Uganda, said that cultural organisations in the UAE are very active in collaborating with different activities to boost cooperation with their counterparts across the world.

The UAE Ambassador said: “The Arabic Language Week, hosted in collaboration with Cattolica University, is now one of the largest book fairs in Arabic language in Europe, thanks to the efforts of Sharjah. In Africa, we have a large number of students graduating with high-tech skills as part of our initiatives, especially in East Africa.”

He added: “Creative authorities in the UAE are also joining hands with entities like Unesco to boost cooperation and work towards a better future for all.”

“Every citizen is an ambassador of their culture and community. In history, great travellers and explorers like Marco Polo represented their culture and cuisines to the world. Our grandfathers went to Africa and beyond for commercial ties, and it is surprising how that has led to Arabic enriching Swahili literature with its vocabulary,” he said.

Moon Byung-Jun, Consul-General of the Republic of Korea in Dubai, expressed his delight at SIBF naming his country as the ‘Guest of Honour’ next year. “The social fabric of the Arab world and Korea have a lot of commonalities, and hence the worldwide acceptance of Korean dramas, serials and music. In terms of books, the new generation is adapting to e-books for both knowledge and leisure and I believe that trend is set to continue all over the world. However, paper has a role in covering emotions and the role of traditional books will not diminish.”

He added: “I’m looking forward to SIBF 2023 and promise to bring in initiatives and activities to engage in more cultural understanding. Language is vital in promoting culture, and the Arab and Islamic world historically had invested in deep knowledge with the oldest libraries of the world in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, among many others.”


The Korean Consul-General said: “We now have many Korean students signing up for Arabic language classes in our universities all the way up to PhD levels and vice versa.”

Commenting on the importance of cultural diplomacy, Italian Ambassador to the UAE, Lorenzo Fanara, said that a total of 17 prominent writers and 12 publishers are attending this year’s SIBF where Italy is the Guest of Honour. He added: “We also have Michelin-star chefs, ballet performances and numerous other artists who are showcasing our rich heritage at SIBF 2022.”

He added: “Italians, no matter the level of education, are accustomed to reading culture and I’m hoping this will be passed to the younger generations. Adapting to the digital world is a must, but to get past the superficial layer and find our deeper gestures, one needs to get transported to a different world. The culture of publishing in Italy is set to stay, as it creates more employment opportunities and contributes significantly to the Italian economy.”

The session concluded with the officials reaffirming their pledge and solidarity to continue their efforts in promoting bilateral ties and peaceful co-existence.

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