Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has attended the opening of the LIBER International Book Fair in Madrid, Spain, to launch the Spanish translation of several of his books according to a recent article in The National.
His translated works include his memoirs, My Early Life: Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi and Taking the Reins. They have been translated from Arabic to Spanish and also into English.
The books follow the Sheikh’s childhood leading up to his selection as ruler of Sharjah aged 33 in 1972 and continue with the challenges he faced during the foundation of the UAE from 1971 to 1977.
During his official visit, the Sharjah ruler visited the Spanish capital and attended a reception on October 9th, where he was guest of honour, to celebrate his literary works.
A large contingent of Emirati and Spanish publishing figures attended the launch at Teatro Real, the historic opera house, where the Sheikh gave an address highlighting the cultural links between the Arab world and Spain and the central role that literature plays in continuing and strengthening those links.
The Sheikh said this is of particular importance to him as “Spain is unlike any other country in Europe. It is the closest to us, we have left our names and traces on its valleys and walls and everywhere. We have left our monuments and our influence.”
He continued saying “We have come to seek your friendship and your love by reviving the past which has established a civilization on this land. This can be seen with great architectural monuments and educational culture that exist to this day and which we are proud of and so are you.”
Sheikh Dr Sultan expressed his happiness that cultural exchanges between the UAE and many European countries are becoming more frequent since the early exchanges with Britain, followed France, Germany, Italy and now Spain.
It wasn’t only publishing figures who had a chance to share in the Emirati culture at the event; there was also an hour-long performance showcasing Emirati traditional dance for the Madrid public who waited outside the invitation-only event.
The show featured a folk troupe of dancers in traditional dress alongside instruments such as, the tamboura (a drum) and the Al Habaan (a leather bagpipe).
Among the many Emiratis spurring the crowd on were actor Habib Ghuloom, academic Hamad Bin Seray and poet Abdullah El Hedeya.
Al Hedeya commented on the overseas trip saying they were important on many levels as it gives an opportunity to meet local students, other writers and share information regarding Arab culture and literature.
Sharing his experience of visiting Spain, Al Hedeya said “I think as poets we look at a city in a different way, or we are looking for a certain feeling than capturing images,” he said. “When I am here, I don’t feel like a stranger. That is probably because the history the Arabs have with Spain. Everything feels familiar to me, from the culture to the people.”
The Liber International Book Fair ran from October 9th – 11th and bought together some of the leading publishers and authors from the Spanish language market.
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