SAO PAULO, With the attendance of diplomatic and cultural figures, authors and publishers, the 25th Sao Paulo International Book Fair began its 10-day celebration of books and literature on Thursday, with Sharjah taking centre stage as its first-ever guest of honour, reflecting the growing cultural ties between the UAE and Brazil.
The plans of the two countries to turn this visions into reality were shared at the fair's opening ceremony, through speeches by Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, who is leading the Sharjah delegation in Sao Paulo; Bruno Covas, Mayor of Sao Paulo; Sergio Sa Leitao, Brazilian Minister of Culture; Luis Antonio Torelli, Brazilian Book Chamber President, and Lucia Franca, First Lady of Sao Paulo, in the presence of Ibrahim Alawi, UAE Consul-General in Sao Paulo.
On the sidelines of the opening ceremony, the Sharjah pavilion, which is hosting a cultural programme for the fair's visitors, was launched by Franca, Campelo and Torelli, who were received at the pavilion by Sheikh Fahim, Alawi, and representatives of cultural authorities from Sharjah and Brazil.
The Brazilian dignitaries learnt about the visions and roles of the participating authorities and browsed through Portuguese translations of Arabic books from the UAE. Sheikh Fahim presented Franca some English and Portuguese translations of the works of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
Sheikh Fahim stressed that the UAE's presence in one of Latin America's most prominent cultural events while pointing out that culture has been and will continue to contribute to human history.
"We are proud to be here in Brazil, a country of acclaimed authors who have shaped global literature. Its vibrant and exciting literary history, which is preserved in novels, plays, poems and songs, exemplifies a society where people share a unified cultural identity, which they use as a shield to face common challenges. The exceptional beauty and distinctive flavour of Brazilian and Latin literature never fail to mesmerise," he said.
On the importance of cross-cultural exchange, he added, "Writing is a way of manifesting one's conscience. When we write, we interpret the world as we see it. Reading other people's literary creations enables us to share their imagination, understand them better and develop empathy. It is said that we write to be understood, and I believe that we read to understand others and find new horizons. For these reasons and many more, we believe that cultural exchange is a way to build long lasting relationships that go beyond official formalities. It allows us to express ourselves in the most beautiful ways."
Sheikh Fahim affirmed that the UAE enjoys close cultural relations with Brazil, and is keen to strengthen their cultural ties, to build a better future together.
"The UAE has strong relations with Brazil, which is reflected by the number of Brazilians in the UAE, who are part of the country's diverse social fabric and its trade, cultural and sporting sectors. Sharjah's selection as this prestigious event's first guest of honour highlights the deep appreciation between the two sides. I am certain that the coming days will promote social, cultural and economic cooperation between Brazil and Sharjah," Alawi said.
"I hope that this year's edition of the Sao Paulo Book Fair will enable us to strengthen Brazil's economic and cultural ties with the UAE, as well as the ties between the cities of S?o Paulo and Sharjah. Both are proud of their cultural heritage that is preserved in their people, as well as their numerous museums, theatres, galleries and exhibitions. We are extremely proud of our book fairs too," Covas said.
"Sharjah has a strong cultural reputation around the world and is recognised for its investment in cultural initiatives, particularly those related to books and reading. It is an honour to host a regional beacon of literature and culture," S? Leitao said.
"This year's edition is the first to honour a city in the Middle East. Sharjah, our guest of honour, is the cultural capital of the UAE, and we look forward to experiencing the richness of its culture, through its music, dance and literature. The UNESCO World Book Capital 2019, Sharjah is a cultural mirror of the Arab world. The recent opening of the Sharjah Publishing City, the world's first free zone dedicated to the publishing industry, is a recent example of this. Sharjah will bring a special presence to the event and its 600,000-plus visitors, who will be enchanted by the region's unique culture," Torelli said in conclusion.
Source: Emirates News Agency