Following Sharjah Book Authority (SBA)’s announcement of Spain as Guest of Honour (GoH) for the 40th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), senior cultural officials in Spain have said that their preparations for and participation in SIBF in a way that befits the prominent global standing of this international event hosted annually by Sharjah, will be significant for Spain.    

Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports revealed that a special team has been formed, which will be designing a bespoke GoH programme to ensure a magnificent representation of their local culture, art and literature in Sharjah and also broaden the existing horizons for exchange between Arab and Spanish cultures.   

The announcememnt was made earlier this week in Madrid during a meeting between a Sharjah delegation led by HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA and Spanish officials. The meeting’s attendees included HE Majid Hassan Mohamed Al Suwaidi, Ambassador of the UAE to the Kingdom of Spain; HE Antonio Álvarez Barthe, Ambassador of Spain to the UAE; Maria José Gálvez, General Director for Books and Reading Promotion, Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports; and Pilar Torre Villaverde, Advisory Member, Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports.

During the meeting, the two parties held a detailed discussion on Spain’s GoH participation in SIBF 2021, which will be the largest and first-of-kind representation of Spain’s culture and its authors, artists and intellectuals on a platform anywhere in the Arab region. The meeting’s participants also deliberated on the promotion of partnership opportunities in various cultural fields, and explored ways to strengthen sustainable cultural exchange between cultural institutions in Sharjah and Spain, particularly in the book industry.

HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, said: “Spain's participation as the Guest of Honour at the 40th edition of SIBF reiterates the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, that books are key pillars of support that strengthen bonds between nations and cultures. The written word is a powerful medium of exchange via which long-term partnerships and cooperation are forged between cities, countries and cultures. Celebrating Spain and its rich, historical cultural legacy as well as showcasing its modern achievements in various cultural fields will enable the UAE and the region to get more familiar with and appreciate the fifth-most spoken language in the world.”

For her part, María José Gálvez, noted: “We are currently working with relevant local bodies to craft a distinctive and qualitative programme that will befit our GoH participation in SIBF 2021. The Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports is always keen on expanding the local book industry’s global outreach. This special showcase in Sharjah presents a unique opportunity for us, especially after the pandemic, because the emirate has an excellent track record in presenting global industry professionals real and promising opportunities through the book fair, not only locally and in the Arab region, but also across Asia and the rest of the world, thanks to SIBF’s globally renowned professional programmes that create brand new avenues for authors, publishers, translators, and creatives from around the world."

Emirati and Spanish ambassadors highlight continuity of efforts to strengthen bilateral relations

HE Al Suwaidi commended Sharjah's vital role in enhancing UAE’s cultural relations with nations across the globe. He also highlighted that the depth of the UAE’s and Spain’s friendship has recently become more evident with the former approving a plan to include the Spanish language in the UAE’s academic curricula given that its is one of the most important languages globally used in the development of science, arts and literature.

For his part, HE Barthe expressed his gratitude to Sharjah and SBA for hosting Spain as the Guest of Honour at SIBF, affirming that the move reinfoirces Sharjah's status as a global cultural city. Noting that this decision reflects on the tight relationship between the UAE and Spain, he added that several affirmative steps are being taken by both nations to continue on the path, the most recent project has been the inauguration of the Spanish School in Abu Dhabi in September 2020.

At the end of the visit, HE Ahmed Al Ameri presented María José Gálve with Spanish translations of a set of theatrical works by His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah.

Meeting with the Spanish Association of Publishers Guilds

The SBA delegation led by HE Ahmed Al Ameri, met with officials from the Spanish Association of Publishers Guilds (Federación de Gremios de Editores de España - FGEE), including Manuel González Moreno, President of the FGEE; and Antonio Avila, Executive Director of FGEE.

They discussed broadening the scope of Spanish publishers' participation at SIBF this year and ensuring their maximum participation in the Publishers Conference organised annually by SBA in the lead up to SIBF. The Spanish side expressed their interest in translating Spanish children's books into Arabic and expanding into Arabic readership market through the SIBF and the Publishers Conference.

Source: National Network Communications (NNC)

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