Sharjah, November 1, 2023 : His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated today (Wednesday) the 42nd edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair, organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) with the theme “We Speak Books,” at Expo Centre Sharjah until November 12. The inauguration was held in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, the Crown Prince, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, and His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah.
The Ruler of Sharjah was received by HE Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence; Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of SBA; Sheikh Salem bin Abdulrahman Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Ruler’s Office; Sheikh Khalid Bin Isam Bin Saqer Al Qassimi, Chairman of the Civil Aviation Department; Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Government Relations (DGR) in Sharjah; Sheikh Mohammed bin Humaid Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Department of Statistics and Community Development (DSCD); Sheikh Majid bin Sultan bin Saqer Al Qasimi, Chairman of Districts Affairs Department; and HE Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi, Minister of Culture and Youth.
His Highness was also welcomed by Sheikh Saud bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Director of the Sharjah Digital Office (SDO); Sheikh Faisal bin Saud Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah International Airport Authority; Sheikh Salem bin Muhammad bin Salem Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA); Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Director of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Sharjah; HE Abdulrahman bin Mohamed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention (MoHAP); HE Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of Education, senior officials, diplomats, representatives of cultural organisations and institutions, as well as intellectuals and literati.
During Sharjah Ruler’s speech at the opening ceremony of the book fair, His Highness stressed that the Arabic language is the origin of all world languages, as it was the language of Adam (PBUH) that God Almighty endowed him with. His Highness noted that there are historical inaccuracies in the study of languages and linguistics around the world that must be corrected, which will be addressed in the ‘Dictionary of World Languages’ that will be published later as part of His Highness’s efforts and scientific research on the history of the Arabic language to protect and disseminate it. His Highness also touched upon the importance of the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language.
The Ruler of Sharjah spoke about the highlights of the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language: “It is a pleasure for the reader, and showcases the history of the language since its inception, as its contents comprise detailed events and descriptions of everything… in poetry, literature and more. This corpus not only reveals the word and its meaning but also provides a comprehensive description.”
His Highness drew attention to the great effort to produce the corpus, comparing the linguistic dictionary of the Kingdom of Sweden, which 137 people worked on for 140 years, resulting in 39 volumes and 33,000 pages. Meanwhile, 500 scholars, editors and proofreaders are working on the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language. The Sharjah Ruler noted that it will take six years to complete 110 volumes, totalling 81,000 pages.
His Highness added: “We ask: Is it Arabic language? Is what we speak called Arabic? Where did the word ‘Arab’ come from? And who coined it? And where? The Almighty gathered many people living in the holy city of Mecca and surrounding areas in one place, so they said: ‘People Qarshat… those Qarasho meaning gathered… hence the name ‘Quraish.’ So we were named Quraish based on the origin of the name. But Quraish has the Zamzam well, which we know emerged at the time of Prophet Ismail (PBUH). It is called the Well of Ismail and not called the water. They say ‘Araba Ismail’ which is the water not the well. And in baptism they say ‘Al Arrab’ meaning the person who immerses the child in water. So the word ‘Arab’ means water. Also the water wheels are called ‘arrabah’ and it is said ‘arabi’ meaning the water came out. And from this wheel they took the word ‘Al ‘Arrāb.’ These are derivations in the interpretive depth of the word ‘Arab’ and it is an attribute we gave to the Arabs but it was attributed to the language spoken by the Arabs.”
His Highness discussed the names given by researchers to different languages, saying: “Many foreign researchers say ‘Semitic languages’ including Ethiopian, Babylonian, Hebrew, etc. Why did they say ‘Semitic’? And where did they derive this word from? This language is the language of the Lord of the Worlds for Adam (PBUP) him. The holy verse: ‘And He taught Adam the names of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: “Tell me the names of these if ye are right.”’ But the angels could not comprehend or speak to them. With the knowledge God Almighty endowed Adam, who by God’s decree descended to East Africa specifically in the Ethiopian Highlands, and from there human races migrated. Some migrated north, some inhabited the same land, and others migrated east and west. According to the theory of scientist Mendel, Adam and Eve’s skin colour tended towards grey, which is the complexion of the people of East Africa. If they intermarried and procreated, a white child and a dark child would be born, and so on. The white ones migrated north until they reached Europe. As for the dark ones, they stayed in the same land, and so Africa came about. The rest crossed what is called the Red Sea and came to the Arabian Peninsula. We ask: Did they carry the language with them? If we examine these languages, we find those who migrated north reached the Mediterranean to Italy where the Latin language emerged, the mother of European languages. If we take a comparison between the children who went north and the children who came to the Arabian Peninsula through some words, we find that the Latin languages are the same as Arabic, meaning it is the language of Adam.” His Highness gave examples of some Latin words like ‘road’ while in Arabic it is ‘rawada’ and ‘yartad’, noting that it leads to the same meaning.
The Ruler of Sharjah pointed out that he is currently working on a new project that will benefit the world, saying: “I am now working on a new dictionary called ‘World Languages’ which comes from one source…We will give a name to this language that we have put in 110 volumes and ask… where did this naming come from? It has been said that these languages are similar including Ethiopian, Babylonian, Hebrew. If we take these languages and compare them, we find the words are common, and that the verb is the core of the sentence. And they called it the Semitic languages. Where did they come up with this naming? Its correct naming is ‘Adam’s language.’” His Highness noted that he covered this naming in full in his book ‘Oman’s History: From Ancient Settlements to the Fall of the Ibadi State’, and called on scholars not to use this name (Semitic).
His Highness added: “How did the matter become ambiguous to Western scholars? Because they did not find an explanation for what happened at that time when they wrote about these languages and collected them in what is called the Semitic languages. In 1500 BC, the people of ‘Aad’ lived in Al-Ahqaf, and Hud (PBUH) left them and went to Oman. Some who feared the flood that covered the land took to a route. Historians wrote about this route that passed through Qatif, then to Hinnakiyah, passing through Madina to Levant, until they reached near Damascus. In this area they found land full of limestone called ‘Iram’, which is colloquial Arabic word, so they started carving these rocks and building their city.”
His Highness added: “God mentioned the people of Aad in the holy Quran, and then He said the (first Aad), which means that there is a (second Aad); those who fled Al Ahqaf are Aad’s people. They reached that area and inhabited it where they built their city, calling it after the land they lived in before Iram, which means the land on which they built pillars. When western scholars heard that, they did not mention ‘Iram of the Pillars’, but they mistakenly mentioned ‘Aram, son of Shem, son of Noah’, and this has nothing to do with this topic. Here, we have a critical correction that nullifies all that have been researched and written. I wish that every single attendee would correct this concept; this language is the language of Adam, peace be upon him. This is why I do not simply say that languages are similar to each other, but I will prove it in my book ‘The Dictionary of World Languages’.”
His Highness also said: “I started writing the Latin dictionary in 5 volumes, and whenever I go over this dictionary I speak the words like I’m speaking Arabic, and this will be put in a dictionary proving that the Latin language and other languages all come from one source, which is the divine teachings to Adam (PBUH), from which we are all descendants”.
His Highness hoped he would be successful in protecting the Arabic language, pointing out that his love for it is not because he speaks it, but because it is the language spoken by God, the Prophets and messengers, and it is the language of faith, religion and humanity.
During His Highness’s speech, the Ruler of Sharjah welcomed the South Korean delegation, the Guest of Honour of the 42nd edition, and the University of Coimbra delegation, who are showcasing invaluable manuscripts from the university’s library at the book fair. The Ruler of Sharjah also welcomed participants in the 1st Sharjah International Conference on Arabic Language Studies in Europe for Non-Native Speakers, the delegation from Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, and the Libyan Arabic novelist Ibrahim al-Koni, Personality of the Year at the book fair.
After sharing these inspiring words, the Sharjah Ruler along with Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), felicitated Ibrahim Al-Koni, the renowned Libyan writer and novelist, who has been named as the ‘Cultural Personality of the Year’ at SIBF 2023.
The Swiss publisher Unionsverlag received accolades for their exceptional work in winning the 7th Sharjah Translation Award, ‘Turjuman,’ for their translation of Raja’a Alem’s novel, The Dove’s Necklace. Originally published in Arabic by Centre Culturel Arabe in Morocco, this translation earned well-deserved recognition.
His Highness also signed first editions of the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language, and Oman’s History: From Ancient Settlements to the Fall of the Ibadi State, during the opening ceremony.
During his keynote speech, HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, CEO of the Sharjah Book Authority, highlighted the remarkable growth and achievements of SIBF under the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. He declared, “Through this unique vision, Sharjah has garnered global acclaim in the realms of culture and literature”.
Al Ameri emphasised that the 42nd edition of SIBF has attracted publishers and exhibitors from 109 countries, collectively representing more than half of the world’s nations. He asserted that this global gathering is in fact a reflection of SIBF’s evolution into a pioneering force that continues to leave a lasting impact on both Arab and global cultures.
The CEO continued by stating, “This message and the corresponding level of responsibility testify not only to the book fair’s importance, but also affirm Sharjah’s growing status as a welcoming hub for publishers and creators worldwide, where they can convene and flourish”.
He added: “It was once said about His Highness that around him all the cultures of the world meet. Here we are, witnessing today and everyday, a great embodiment of this saying. Thank you, Your Highness, for your generosity that turns the dreams of content creators into reality.”
Ibrahim Al-Koni’s literary mission honoured by Sharjah
Ibrahim Al-Koni, the distinguished ‘Personality of the Year’ for SIBF 2023, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Sharjah Ruler for bestowing this prestigious title in his keynote speech. He introduced a unique philosophical perspective on the desert, entitled The Desert Is the Lost Link in the Formations’ Fossils, underscoring that the key to happiness hinges not on the nature of one’s labour but on the level of mastery and passion for that labour. He emphasised, “The focus should not be on the nature of the work itself, but on our ability to master it to the extent that it becomes a mission, thus rendering it worthy of the label ‘duty’.”
Al-Koni emphasised the value of the desert, transcending its endless sands, as a profound school of wisdom. He lamented that people have learned so little from it due to their inadequate efforts to explore its depths. He likened the desert to an iceberg, with only a small fraction visible on the surface while the majority remains concealed—a treasure lost in this universe.
Guest of Honour South Korea applauds Sharjah’s role in bringing world cultures together
Representing South Korea’s Guest of Honor delegation, Chulho Yoon, President of the Korea Publishing and Culture Association, expressed his delight at being in Sharjah and remarked, “Back in June, Sharjah was at the Seoul International Book Fair as Guest of Honour, and as a result, Koreans have been able to really get to know the cultures of Sharjah and the UAE, and we are here to further this vibrant exchange”.
“The UAE’s mission to Mars is an example of your passion for innovation; for challenging the impossible, and South Korea shares this mindset. The human imagination is the most powerful force that can ignite the social change needed in our time. We hope that the Arab civilisation which brought culture and knowledge to the West, and Korea, which has been an unquenchable beacon in East Asia, will stretch out into a universe of infinite possibilities. We look forward to welcoming you all to the Korean Pavilion at SIBF 2023,” he added.
For his part, Byungkeuk Jeon, Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, noted: “The UAE is a cultural powerhouse with rich cultural assets. We are honoured to be here in Sharjah, the UNESCO World Book Capital and the cultural capital of this region.This book fair is one of the most valuable cultural exchanges of any cultural event because it bridges cultures, histories and values of very different worlds. Today’s collaboration between Sharjah and Korea goes beyond publishing exchanges to lay the foundation for future cooperation and shared prosperity.”
The Ruler of Sharjah makes a detailed tour of the book fair
Following the opening ceremony, His Highness toured SIBF accompanied and briefed by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of SBA, on the participating pavilions, institutions, entities and publishers, and on the diverse agenda during the 12-day fair. The Ruler of Sharjah started his tour with a visit to the Guest of Honor pavilion from South Korea, where he received a detailed briefing on their program, as well as the major activities and events that this pavilion would host during their participation.
In addition, His Highness explored the pavilions of various Sharjah-based entities, gaining a deeper understanding of their contributions to the cultural landscape, their support for literary, cultural, and scientific endeavours by Emirati and Arab authors and intellectuals. The Ruler of Sharjah also visited numerous pavilions showcasing the latest works from local and Arab publishers across diverse knowledge, culture, and scientific domains.
His Highness explored several pavilions hosting various initiatives and activities in line with Sharjah’s cultural journey, encompassing both national and international programs designed to advance the publishing realm, encourage reading, writing, and elevate children’s education.
During his tour, His Highness graciously received numerous gifts and an array of cultural, scientific, and literary publications from the participating pavilions, writers, and intellectuals.
This year’s edition of SIBF boasts an impressive participation of 2,033 publishers hailing from 109 countries. Among them are 1,043 Arab publishing houses and 990 foreign counterparts, collectively showcasing an astonishing 1.5 million titles. This remarkable collection comprises 800,000 Arabic titles alongside 700 titles from other languages. The 42nd edition further distinguishes itself with 215 prominent Arab and international writers, thinkers, innovators, and artists who will lead 1,700 activities, including 900 workshops, musical performances, theatrical productions, culinary events, and much more.