UAE: SIBF 2023 kicks off with new editions of Sharjah Ruler's landmark project

The well-loved Sharjah International Book Fair will be running for 12 days during which visitors will be able to shop for more than 1.5 million titles at discounted prices

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Wed 1 Nov 2023, 1:02 PM

Last updated: Wed 15 Nov 2023, 4:24 PM

The 42nd edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) on Tuesday kicked off with the launch of the new books chronicling the evolution of the Arabic language over 17 centuries.

His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, announced the new editions of his landmark project Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language.

Inaugurating the session at the Expo Center in Sharjah, Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad signed a copy of the dictionary on stage.

In his inauguration speech, Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad stressed that the Arabic language is the origin of all world languages, as it was the language of Adam (PBUH) that God Almighty endowed him with.

He compared the efforts to produce the corpus, to the linguistic dictionary of the Kingdom of Sweden. The project had 137 people working on it for 140 years, resulting in 39 volumes and 33,000 pages. Meanwhile, 500 scholars, editors and proofreaders are working on the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language. The Sharjah Ruler noted that it will take six years to complete 110 volumes, totalling 81,000 pages.

New Project

Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad also announced a new project at the opening. “I am now working on a new dictionary called 'World Languages' which comes from one source,” he said. “It has been said that these languages are similar including Ethiopian, Babylonian, Hebrew. If we take these languages and compare them, we find the words are common, and that the verb is the core of the sentence. And they called it the Semitic languages. Where did they come up with this naming? Its correct naming is ‘Adam's language.’”

He also expressed hope that he would be successful in protecting the Arabic language, pointing out that his love for it is not because he speaks it, but because it is the language spoken by God, the Prophets and messengers, and it is the language of faith, religion and humanity.

Cultural Personality of the Year

Libyan writer and novelist Ibrahim Al-Koni, who was named as the Cultural Personality of the Year, addressed the guests with thought-provoking words. He questioned what people’s duty was on land and asked whether they should relinquish happiness to perform their duties.

An acclaimed writer, Al-Koni is considered to be one of the most prolific Arabic writers of all times and has published over 80 books. A resident of Switzerland, Al-Koni has been shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2015. In his speech Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad commended Al-Koni for his work. “He is being honored for his efforts in sending the Arabic literary voice to Europe,” he said.

Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, the CEO of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), reiterated the mission of SIBF to welcome the world to Sharjah. “We have become an oasis of light,” he said. “We are hosting more than half the countries in the world at this festival. It opens a window for people from all over the world to the Arab culture.”

He then along with Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), felicitated Al-Koni.

The Swiss publisher Unionsverlag received accolades for their exceptional work by winning the 7th Sharjah Translation Award, 'Turjuman,' for their translation of Raja'a Alem's novel, The Dove's Necklace. Originally published in Arabic by Centre Culturel Arabe in Morocco, this translation earned well-deserved recognition.

Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, the CEO of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), reiterated the mission of SIBF to welcome the world to Sharjah. “We have become an oasis of light,” he said. “We are hosting more than half the countries in the world at this festival. It opens a window for people from all over the world to the Arab culture.”

The book festival will last 12 days during which visitors will be able to shop for more than 1.5 million titles at discounted prices, attend more than 1,700 activities and watch 130 shows. On the first day, attendees learnt about designing games and 3D graphics as well as about Manga calligraphy at various workshops.

Several renowned personalities including Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell, Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor, astronaut Sunita Williams and Egyptian comedian Bassem Yousef will grace the event and address residents.

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