The cultural bridge between East and West is growing stronger as a number of books documenting the history and rise of the country have been translated recently into a number of languages. One of the books that has made a significant impact on the European literary scene in the last few months were those penned by His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. The Sharjah Ruler has close ties with the UK, Spain, Germany and France with the intent to promote Islamic culture and portray an unbiased and real representation of Arab culture, and part of that move also incorporates translating his books. Dr Yousuf Aydabi, Director at the Dr Sultan Al Qasimi Centre of Gulf Studies, explains that it was only last Monday in the UK when the Ruler’s latest translated book, Taking the Reins: The Critical Years 1971-1977 was launched during the London International Book Fair. Shaikh Sultan’s new book provides an insight into how he solved challenges that the newly-formed federation faced in 1972, which consisted mainly about constitutional issues and territorial disputes. It also offers readers a platform to further understand the political instability in the region during that period, including the assassination of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, as well as the 1973 war with Israel and the subsequent oil embargo. “Readers of other cultures will then understand the mind of Arab leaders, the importance Shaikh Zayed had in the country’s formation and have a better perception of how life was in the UAE,” says Aydabi, who notes that avid readers can also purchase the electronic version of the book. A second book which was launched last week in London was Sharjah Air Station, which documents the role Sharjah Airport had in the region in the 1930s. Shaikh Sultan explains in details how the British Government decided to switch their air route to India from Iran to the Arabian coast. What ensued was a power struggle between the British Government and the rulers of the emirates in the Trucial Coast, who refused to grant the requested facilities unless their independence was fully respected. His previous works, My Early Life was launched in French last March while the Spanish version was launched in February. The German copy, Aydabi pointed out, has been available since last October and was revealed at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2011. “[Shaikh Sultan] has taken a particular keenness to make his books available to countries that he has worked with before on other projects, such as providing Islamic and cultural centres, as well as mosques, in European countries,” says Aydabi. The Ruler built a mosque in the Spanish city of Granada in 2003 — the first mosque to be build there since the 16th century — in addition to pledging a generous assistance to construct a major heritage initiative in the historic city. Bilateral projects also include extending the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies Building at the University of Exeter in the UK, and an excavation team from the University of Tubingen, Germany, which carries out frequent visits at archaeological sites.