The ‘Warsha’ programme, the trailblazing initiative by the “Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature”, sent a number of Arab illustrators to participate in the 53rd edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF), the recently concluded literary event that took place in Italy. The destination for the attendees was the ‘Illustrators Café,’ which was held on the side-lines of BCBF and is one of the most important events for creative networking for children’s book illustrators from around the world.
This initiative forms part of the "Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature", which is supported by the UAE’s leading telecommunications operator "Etisalat" and organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY). It reflects the organisers’ commitment to developing the children’s book industry in the region and to give people involved in the field the opportunity to gain further experience. Its ultimate goal is to increase the attractiveness of content, thereby elevating the quality of children’s Arabic books for young readers.
Speaking on the initiative, Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY Executive Board said; “The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is one of the most important international events that specialises in the children’s book industry. We were keen to send a group of Arab illustrators to take part in this important initiative as part of UAEBBY’s strategy to give them the opportunity of gaining international experience and enable them to keep abreast of new methods and techniques for the production of high quality children’s book illustrations.” She added; “Technology and the instant transfer of information have contracted the world into a small village. As a result, Arab children no longer accept books of less than the highest quality, in particular with regards to text and illustrations. The ‘Warsha’ programme provides Arab illustrators with a range of important opportunities to meet internationally acclaimed trainers, specialists and experts in the fields of children’s and young adult literature from more than 75 countries. This helps them hone their skills and develop their ideas into creative artwork, which contributes to the development and enrichment of children’s Arabic publications.”
The Illustrators Café gave visitors at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair the chance to get together and discuss the sector’s latest developments. It enabled them to meet publishers, writers, artists and to introduce themselves to professionals seeking new talent. It also gave them the opportunity to attend an array of lectures, workshops and discussion panels on important subjects to illustrators and stakeholders in children’s and young people’s literature.
Etisalat, the UAE’s leading telecommunications operator and official sponsor of the “Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature”, continues to contribute to elevating the literary sphere in the UAE, culturally and intellectually, through its continuous support of an array of initiatives and projects. Since 2009, it began sponsoring the “Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature”, which comprises five categories; ‘Best Children’s Book of the year,’ ‘Best Young Adult Book of the year,’ Best Text,’ ‘Best Illustration’ and ‘Best Production.’ The award is worth a total of AED one million distributed between the five categories.
The Warsha programme was launched in 2013 by UAEBBY with the support of the “Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature”. The programme aims to inspire a talented new generation of writers, illustrators and publishers who are passionate about creating Arabic books for children and young adults. It consists of a range of workshops in illustration, writing, and publishing, which
aspires to build the capacities of young individuals in the creation of books that are rooted in local Arab culture and which meet and exceed international standards.
The UAEBBY is the national branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), a non-profit organisation which represents an international network of people who are committed to bringing books and children together. IBBY seeks to promote global understanding through children’s books; to give children everywhere the opportunity to have access to reading material with high literary and artistic standards; to provide support and training for those involved with children and children’s literature; to stimulate research and scholarly works in the field of children’s literature and to protect and uphold the right of the child to a general education that includes direct access to information.