Sharjah to promote the aesthetics of Emirati culture in Greece

With 30 activities at Thessaloniki International Book Fair 2024 
Bodour Al Qasimi
Bodour Al Qasimi
  1. Bodour Al Qasimi to lead discussion on the impact of World Book Capitals on children 
  2. University of Athens pays tribute to Sharjah
  3. Strengthening Arab-Greek ties
  4. Exploring the influence of Greek philosophy on literature
  5. Bridging cultures through publishing
  6. Exploring artistic collaboration
  7. Celebrating poetry and translation
  8. Exploring women's narratives
  9. Empowering youth voices
  10. Exploring cultural heritage
  11. Preserving cultural legacy through publishing
  12. Exploring literary forms
  13. Children and youth: Panel discussions and creative workshops  
  14. Literature, philosophy and novels
  15. Press conference

Celebrating a new milestone in its cultural journey of fostering meaningful intercultural connections, Sharjah proudly assumes the role of the first Arab Guest of Honour at the 20th Thessaloniki International Book Fair (TIBF), scheduled from May 16-19. In its engagement at the fair, Sharjah is poised to curate a comprehensive cultural itinerary, featuring over 30 panel discussions, innovative workshops, and captivating heritage shows, and showcasing 10 books spanning poetry, prose, arts and studies, all translated into Greek, in an open dialogue with the cultural landscape in Greece. 

Led by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), the emirate’s delegation will be represented by more than 20 cultural, educational, and heritage institutions from Sharjah, who will work towards fostering deeper collaboration and partnerships between Emirati entities and their Greek counterparts. The delegates will exemplify Sharjah’s cultural project, which stems from the Emirati and Arab identity, in its quest to create a global positive impact on knowledge and the creative industries.

TBIF Sharjah
TBIF Sharjah

Bodour Al Qasimi to lead discussion on the impact of World Book Capitals on children 

The TIBF will be celebrating Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, by hosting her in a session titled ‘Unlocking Worlds: Children’s Literature and World Book Capitals,’ to speak about her book World Book Capital, which addresses the ‘Sharjah World Book Capital 2019’ experience. Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi will be highlighting the transformative power of children’s literature in raising awareness about World Book Capitals, alongside Anna Routsi, World Book Capital Network Expert, and will delve into the inspiration behind such literary endeavours, and her efforts in promoting Arab culture globally. 

University of Athens pays tribute to Sharjah

On May 22, the University of Athens will pay homage to Sharjah's participation in TIBF by hosting a session titled ‘Timeless Cultural Relations Between Greece and the Arab World: Contemporary Literature of the United Arab Emirates.’ Esteemed authors Mohamad el Khalidi, Ali Al Abdan, Ibrahim Al Hashemi, Eleni Kondyli, Emeritus Professor of Arabic Studies, and Persa Koumoutsi, Writer and Translator of Arabic Literature, will convene to explore contemporary literature and its resonance across linguistic and cultural boundaries through readings and discussions. 


Strengthening Arab-Greek ties

The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) will organise a session titled ‘Cultural Connections between Arabs and Greece,’ featuring Dr. Sultan Al Amimi, Chairman of the Emirates Writers Union, and Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage, in dialogue with Dr. Haris Meletiadis of Pandion University. Moderated by Giannis Kessopoulos, this session will delve into the deep-rooted historical and cultural affinities between the two civilizations. 

Exploring the influence of Greek philosophy on literature

A thought-provoking session titled ‘The Impact of Greek Philosophy on Literature’ will bring together critic and author Dr. Zainab Al-Yasi and Dr. Konstantinos Bouras, a distinguished poet and literary critic, to examine the enduring influence of Greek philosophy on Arab and Greek literary traditions.  

Simultaneously, in the session ‘Manifestations of Poetic Expression in Both Modern Arabic and Modern Greek Poetry,’ at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), Dr. Ioanna Naoum, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the Department of Greek Philology at AUTH; Emirati poet Ibrahim al Hashemi, and Chloe Koutsoubeli, a Greek poet and VP of the Creative Writers Association of Thessaloniki, will engage in a dialogue exploring the evolution of poetic expression and its contemporary significance.


Bridging cultures through publishing

Panellists from Greece and the UAE will converge in the session ‘Bridging Cultures through Publishing – Greek and Emirati Perspectives,’ comprising Argiris Kastaniotis of Kastaniotis Publishing, Maria Zampara of Alexandria Publishing, Emirati Abdullah Al Kaabi of Al Ramsa Publishing, and Ameera BinKadra of Ghaf Publishing. This session will delve into the pivotal role of publishing in fostering cultural exchange between the two nations. 

Moreover, the session ‘Collective Management Organizations and Their Role in Preserving the Rights of Creators’ will offer insights into the Emirati experience in safeguarding intellectual property rights, with a focus on reprography rights, featuring distinguished panellists such as Mohamed Bin Dekhain, President of the Emirates Reprographic Rights Association (ERRA); Majd Al Shehi, Director of the ERRA, and representatives from Greek collective management organisations. 

Exploring artistic collaboration

In a session titled 'Philosophies: Visual Simulation,' Emirati and Greek illustrators will converge to discuss their collaborative artistic project, ‘Philosophies,’ showcasing the transcendent power of visual expression in conveying philosophical ideas. This panel will feature prominent artists from both nations, offering a unique perspective on artistic convergence. 


Celebrating poetry and translation

UAE poets Khuloud Al Mualla, Ali Al Shaali, and Ibrahim Al Hashmi will engage with Persa Koumoutsi, the translator who has facilitated the dissemination of their works to Greek audiences, in a poignant ‘Poetry Meeting.’ This session will feature bilingual readings, celebrating the lyrical beauty of both Arabic and Greek poetry while underscoring the universality of poetic expression. 

Exploring women's narratives

The literary landscape will be enriched by discussions on women's narratives, with sessions such as 'Women's Novel and Society' featuring Emirati author and artist Maryam Masoud Al Shehhi and Greek author Amanda Michalopoulou. Additionally, the session 'Woman as Creator and Protagonist in Contemporary Arabic Poetry' will illuminate the portrayal of women's experiences and perspectives in Arabic poetry, with a focus on Emirati contributions to Greek literature. 


Empowering youth voices

The voices of youth will resonate through sessions such as 'Emerging Contemporary Literature in the Emirates and Greece: Trends and Challenges,' where Emirati author Hind Saif Al Bar and Greek counterpart Dimitris Sotakis will explore the evolving landscape of youth literature in their respective nations. Similarly, the session 'Modern Poem and Young Experiences' will provide a platform for young poets to reflect on contemporary themes and aesthetics in poetry. 

Exploring cultural heritage

HE Fahad Al-Maamari, Chairman of the Emirates Libraries and Information Association, will lead discussions on the intersection of Greek and Arab civilizations in the session 'Between the Arab and Greek Heritages.' Meanwhile, the session 'City Identity' will delve into the cultural identity of the UAE through its architectural heritage, with contributions from esteemed panellists including Dr. Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi and author Nikos Vatopoulos.  


Preserving cultural legacy through publishing

Panellists from leading publishing houses will converge to discuss 'Publishing’s Role in Preserving Historical and Cultural Content,' shedding light on the vital role of publishers in safeguarding cultural heritage and fostering educational resources. 

Exploring literary forms

The exploration of literary forms will continue with sessions such as 'Challenges of the Short Story in the Time of the Novel,' which will examine the evolving narrative landscape, and 'Philosophy of Space in Art and Literature,' which will delve into the significance of spatial concepts in artistic expression. 

Children and youth: Panel discussions and creative workshops  

The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) will participate in three sessions - ‘Colours that Paint Civilizations: A UAE-Greek Dialogue on Culture and Creativity in Children’s Literature,’ ‘Journey into the Worlds of Imagination: Enriching Young Minds and Expanding Horizons,’ and ‘Instilling Love for Reading: A Journey Towards a Reading Community.’ 

Sharjah’s cultural programme in Greece will engage children in three workshops. In the first titled ‘Reflections’, Rashed Al Mulla will nurture the creative skills of the participants. Moderated by Nasser Nasrallah, the second workshop, titled ‘The World as We See it,’ will enable children to draw a collection of innovative paintings using many elements and putting them together to create a picture of the world as each of them sees it. Themed ‘We Are together,’ the third workshop, presented by Alia Al Hammadi, will address the concept of safe coexistence.


Literature, philosophy and novels

In a session themed ‘Challenges of the Short Story in the Time of the Novel’, Ali Al Abdan and Thomas Korovinis will discuss the challenges that face short stories. Another session titled ‘Philosophy of Space in Art and Literature’ will host Dr. Maryam Al Hashemi and Theodoros Grigoriadis to address the philosophy of space and its importance in artistic and literary works. Poet Nojoum Al Ghanem will discuss her work Sea and horizon in a Narrow Passage, which was released in the Greek language recently, alongside Persa Koumoutsi and Giorgos Alisanoglou. 

Press conference

The Sharjah GoH programme was announced by HE Ahmed Al Ameri, CEO of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) during a press conference on Tuesday 14th of May, which was organised by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, in cooperation with Greek Publishers to unveil the agenda of the 20th edition of the The Thessaloniki International Book Fair (TIBF).  

“Through the Sharjah Guest of Honour programme at TIBF, we are keen to foster constructive dialogue with all entities dedicated to culture and the creative industries, globally. The TIBF will bring new networking opportunities for authors, cultural entities, publishing and copyrights professionals as well as literary agents, and offer the Greek and global communities a gateway to the history of Emirati culture,” said Al Ameri. 

Ahmed Al Ameri
Ahmed Al Ameri

“Each time Sharjah is celebrated as the Guest of Honour at leading international book fairs around the world, we are used to calling for more communication and collaboration with Emirati and Arab culture. However, here in Greece, our call is different, because collaboration and communication has always been a mainstay between our cultures. Our message will be to renew the world’s faith in the transformative power of books in empowering communities to build a better future that befits our children and grandchildren,” Al Ameri added.