MOSCOW, 5th September, 2019 (WAM) -- Mikhail Shvydkoy, Special Representative of Russian President for International Cultural Cooperation, inaugurated the Sharjah pavilion at the 32nd edition of Moscow International Book Fair,MIBF 2019, which began on Wednesday. Sharjah is the first Arab city to have been conferred ‘Guest City’ status by Russia’s largest book fair, in recognition of the emirate’s leading efforts and achievements to promote culture.
Shvydkoy, accompanied by Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah’s Department of Government Relations, and the head of the Sharjah delegation to MIBF 2019, toured the pavilion, acquainting himself with the events and activities Sharjah is organising as part of its five-day cultural showcase.
Shvydkoy, who served as the Russian Federation’s Minister of Culture from 2000–2004, was briefed on the efforts and initiatives of Sharjah’s organisations to take Emirati culture to the world, and major Russia–UAE cultural projects.
Sharjah was crowned the ‘Guest City’ laurel at the official opening of the fair, in the presence of Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi; Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority,SBA; and Maadhad Hareb Al Khaili, UAE Ambassador to the Russian Federation.
Omar Saif Ghobash, former UAE Ambassador to Russia; Abdullah Al Owais, Chairman of Sharjah Department of Culture; Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, Director of Sharjah Institute for Heritage; and a number of representatives from Sharjah’s cultural organisations, Emirati writers and intellectuals also witnessed the ceremony.
During his tour of the Sharjah pavilion supervised by SBA, the Russian official learnt about Sharjah’s keenness to strengthen the Russian–Arab translations movement as he browsed through the 59 first-edition Russian translations of books; in addition to the works of The Ruler of Sharjah. The Sharjah World Book Capital Office,SWBC Office, also took him through the itinerary of key discussions and activities they will organise.
He also familiarised himself with several innovative initiatives being carried out by Sharjah entities to promote local culture and literature, like the ‘1001 Titles’ initiative by Knowledge without Borders,KwB, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, Kalimat Group, and others.
Shvydkoy underlined the global importance and impact of the Sharjah the World Book Capital 2019 celebrations, saying the title has turned global attention to Sharjah’s unique efforts to share UAE’s and the larger Arab region’s cultural dynamism with the world.
In his speech during the opening ceremony, Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi said: "UAE and Russia share a long history of cooperation in investment, trade and tourism. I am confident these ties will continue to grow stronger given the common value we share in placing culture at the helm of our development goals. Russia, being the homeland of literary greats Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin, to name a few – you already feel the pulse of a city like ours, which applies literature and culture as a tool for human progress."
He added: "The cultural exchange calendar between Sharjah and the cities of Russia has seen a remarkable increase, especially in the past few months. In July, the Emirate of Sharjah organised ‘Sharjah Week’ at the St. Petersburg Museum. We were absolutely delighted to see your genuine keenness to learn about who we are and where we come from at this event. Your eagerness to open your hearts more widely to our culture has us all motivated to further deepen this ongoing exchange. Sharjah is determined to make the cultural partnership count in as many ways as possible – not just for us who are witnessing these developments, but also for future generations to come."
Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi emphasised that the selection of Sharjah as MIBF 2019’s ‘Guest City’ reflects the success of the 47 years of strategic efforts put in by H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to forge friendships with cities worldwide through heartfelt cultural exchanges – just like your prestigious fair. Our identity is sculpted by our leadership’s vision to place ‘people’ – both citizens or residents – at the heart of the emirate’s drive of comprehensive development."
Speaking of Sharjah’s selection as MIBF’s Guest City, Mikhail Shvydkoy said: "We are keen to strengthen our cultural relations with the UAE through the Sharjah gateway. We strive to continue our bilateral meetings and open up new prospects for cooperation and joint action with the emirate's cultural institutions".
The Russian representative added: "We are fully aware of the emirate's position regionally and internationally and we know the journey led by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi, which brought Sharjah the prestigious title of World Book Capital 2019."