A UAE paper has said that Sharjah has been growing in stature as a major hub of intellectual and cultural activities in the region. Its annual event, the Sharjah International Book Fair, is a shining indicator of this.
"The exhibition is a magnet for literary jewels and celebrated artistes who are famous not just in the Middle East but internationally too. The presence of renowned American thriller writer Dan Brown at the book fair is a continuing process of this affirmation," said The Gulf Today in its editorial on Sunday.
It continued, "Brown mesmerised the crowds with his scintillating address on Thursday night. Many had flown in from overseas simply to hear – and see – him. The eminent novelist spoke on a range of issues: his childhood, parents, the conflict between science and religion, et al. What had a lasting impression on the author of The Da Vinci Code was the effusive Arab hospitality and warmth. So much so that when H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, asked Brown if he would be interested in attending the book fair next year, the writer responded with great interest and enthusiasm." "Brown was not the only star wowing bibliophiles at the book fair. Closer to home, Egyptian actor, Adel Emam thrilled guests at the event with a special appearance in the presence of Sheikh Sultan." He lauded the efforts of Sheikh Sultan in taking a special interest in culture, specially theatre. He also commended the UAE’s support to Egypt during the turbulent political situation it recently underwent.
The opening of the 32nd Sharjah International Book Fair witnessed the launch of Sheikh Sultan’s autobiography, Hadeeth Al Thakira – Part III. Sheikh Sultan has played pioneering roles in the fields of education, art and culture, industry and investment, in addition to a host of other humanitarian projects. He is particularly concerned about children’s education. The picture on page 4 of this paper on Saturday is a sparkling example of his affection for children.
Last year, he launched a new initiative, the first of its kind in the Arab world, to support smart education in Arabic for students in Sharjah to promote the Arabic language, learning through the latest means and modern programmes, and creating an appropriate school environment for creativity.
"In May 2013, he granted Dhs2 million in support of publishing houses participating in the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival. Sheikh Sultan said it was vital to inculcate the love of reading among children and youngsters, which would become a lifelong habit for them," the paper added.
On an international level, he has strived for the betterment and advancement of relations and cultural exchange between Arabs and Europeans.
Sheikh Sultan is also a model of religious openness. In March, he inaugurated the world’s landmark overseas exhibition of Islamic art and culture – a collection of treasures from around the globe by the Vatican Museums and specifically by the Vatican Ethnological Museum (VEM).
"Truly, under his patronage, the emirate has become a byword for cultural and economic progress," the Sharjah-based daily concluded.