Panellists in a cultural session titled ‘World Book Cities Join Forces, United for Books and Reading‘, organised as part of the Sharjah International Book Fair 2022 events, discussed Sharjah’s prominence as a key member of the World Book Capital Network, and commended its efforts in sharing knowledge and expertise to support new world book capitals.
The discussion brought together Marwa Al Aqroubi, Project Manager of Sharjah World Book Capital 2019; Ian Denison, Head of Publications at UNESCO and Global Coordinator of the World Book Capital (WBC) programme; and Sheikh Faisal Sheikh Mansour, from World Book Capital Office – Kuala Lampur 2020, to highlight the role of the World Book Capital Network in fostering a culture of reading and strengthening bonds between individuals and knowledge sources.
Marwa Al Aqroubi stated that the selection of Sharjah as the World Book Capital in 2019 was a global testimony to the emirate’s tireless efforts in building a comprehensive cultural project based in on its firm belief in the power of words, culture and knowledge.
She emphasised that the success of Sharjah’s cultural project stems from its core goals of addressing all community groups and promoting cultural diversity through programmes and activities that strengthen intercultural communication.
Al Aqroubi also touched on the main elements of Sharjah’s mission, which focuses on nurturing a culture of reading, reviving heritage, providing knowledge-based empowerment for children and young people, improving the quality of life, advancing the publishing industry and building a solid foundation to attract global knowledge industries from all over the world.
Ian Denison spoke about the positive impact of naming a world book capital every year since the UNESCO launched this initiative in 2001 in cooperation with its partners in the publishing sector. He pointed out that the cultural activities of the cities chosen as world book capitals contributed to enhancing the public interaction with books and sources of knowledge.
Denison stressed that Sharjah established an outstanding example to follow during its tenure as WBC in 2019. It played a pivotal role in enhancing the public awareness of the books’ value and positive impact on the lives of societies. More importantly, Sharjah developed a sustainable interest in books and promoted a culture of reading and knowledge sharing.
During the session, Sheikh Faisal Sheikh Mansour stressed that the WBC is a significant initiative that drives the cultural development of communities and establishes reading as a major contributor to sustainable development. It is launched by the UNESCO in collaboration with the International Publishers Association and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
He indicated that the Malaysian government devised a series of initiatives to celebrate Kuala Lumpur’s World Book Capital 2020 recognition and praised the city’s success in overcoming the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic through innovative ideas. It utilised the Internet connectivity space to hold virtual session to highlight the value of books and reading at a time when it was not possible to physically organise events or exchange books.