His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, today (Wednesday) inaugurated the eighth edition of the Sharjah Children's Reading Festival (SCRF) at Sharjah Expo Centre under the theme 'Shine Out’.
The Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah was greeted with loud cheers from a group of children on his arrival, with the youngsters chanting a song to welcome him and to express their happiness at the launch of the leading literary festival's eighth edition.
Taking place over 11 days until April 30, SCRF 2016 is hosting 1,518 cultural, educational, arts and entertainment events and sees the participation of 130 publishers from 15 countries. Coinciding with the UAE's 'Year of Reading,' the 11-day SCRF 2016 will give children the opportunity to acquire the latest books and gain new skills through its array of training workshops and fun-filled entertainment and educational events.
His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi toured the festival's halls with its numerous literary sections and stands, some of which have been allocated for publishers and others designated for the festival's many cultural seminars, training workshops, theatrical performances and musical shows.
On the first part of his tour at SCRF 2016, Sharjah's Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler visited the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information's, stand, where he was briefed by HE Abdullah Mohammed Al Owais, Chairman of the department, about its publications targeting children, especially those related to storytelling, poetry and theatre.
His Highness also visited the stands of a number of local, Arab and international publishing houses, as well as those representing government cultural and educational organisations. Among the exhibitors he visited were the UAE Board on Books for Young People, the Etisalat Award for Children's Literature, Al Qasimi Publications and Kalimat Group, where he acquainted himself with their respective publications.
During his tour, His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi viewed a number of the festival's educational and training workshops for children, which cover a diverse range of topics, including the arts, science, health and education.
On the sidelines of SCRF 2016, His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi inaugurated the fifth edition of the the Sharjah Exhibition for Children's Book Illustrations, the foremost exhibition dedicated to book art in the Arab region. The dedicated section has on display 1,380 works of art by professional illustrators representing 46 countries, with the artwork a testament to the incredible standard of book illustration in the region and highlighting its important role in engaging children's attention and increasing the attractiveness of reading in young minds.
On the final part of his tour, His Highness Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi visited ‘Beyond Planet Earth,’ a spectacular exhibition being hosted for the first time at SCRF. The exhibition comprises a collection of mini-presentations that take visitors on a virtual reality journey to explore the future and the possibilities of space flight. Beyond Planet Earth's interactive features include the adventurous ‘Solar System Theatre,’ ‘Returning to the Moon,’ ‘Exploring Asteroids’ and ‘Voyaging to Mars,’ with each feature designed to take the intrepid traveller on a tour of our solar system and beyond.
During the inauguration of SCRF 2016, The Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah honoured the winners of the Sharjah Exhibition for Children's Books Illustrations. Scooping the first prize of $8,000 was Lebanese illustrator Hassan Zahreddine. The second place award of $6,000 went to Alexandra Sternin from the US and the third prize of $4,000 was given to German illustrator Sonja Danowski. Illustrators Valentina Piacenza from Italy, Jesus Cisneros from Spain and Fereshteh Najafi from Iran won the honourable mention prizes of $1,000 each.
His Highness Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi also paid tribute to the winners of the SCRF 2016 awards at the opening of the festival. The Arabic Children’s Book Award went to Saudi author Arwa Khamis for her work 'Ana Roomi,' while the Arabic Young Adult Book Award was given to Tunisian writer Nasr Sami for his book 'Tales of Jaber the Shepherd.' The International Children’s Book Award went to Pakistani author and Doctor Tahira Arshad for her publication 'The Black Stone.' Meanwhile, the incentive award for the Best Book for Visually Impaired Children was given to Tunisian author Laila Al Daloul for her title 'Life is all for us.'
His Highness Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi also honoured the winners of the Sharjah Award for Library Literature in its three categories, with the top three writers as voted by the judges all hailing from Egypt. First place went to Tharwat Elelamy Al Morsi, second place to Ali Fathi Abdul Rahim El Sherif and third place to Ahmed Hafez Ahmed.
HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), said: "The Sharjah Children's Reading Festival is now well established as the ideal family extravaganza thanks to the support and guidance of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and the generous patronage of His Wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. The festival has developed a well-deserved reputation since its inception as being a family event for all generations where all members can share the love of reading and the pursuit of knowledge. SCRF has become rightfully renowned as a platform for participants to learn about other cultures, discover new ways of acquiring knowledge and enjoy a programme of rewarding education and entertainment activities."
Al Ameri extended his profound thanks and appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, for gracing the opening of the eighth edition of SCRF.
"This year's festival encompasses a diverse array of workshops, lectures, and entertainment-packed shows, as well as a plethora of cultural activities that enhance cross-cultural communication between visitors of different nationalities. It has become a comprehensive event that celebrates children and places them at the focus of attention so as to ensure their bright present and a prosperous future filled with accomplishments," he added.
SCRF 2016 coincides with 2016 being celebrated by the UAE as the Year of Reading. The festival features 1,518 events spanning several programmes; the Children’s Programme with 1,245 activities, the Cultural Programme with 74, the Cookery Programme with 61 and the workshops with 27. There are 45 interactive events as part of the Beyond Planet Earth installation and 35 activities as part of the fifth edition of the Sharjah Exhibition for Children's Book Illustrations.
The eighth edition of SCRF sees the participation of an elite group of children's book authors, educational experts and media personalities. Among those taking part are acclaimed Moroccan author Al Arabi Ben Jeloun, famous Egyptian actress and TV presenter Najwa Ibrahim; Bahraini actor of Emirati origin Mohammed Yassin who is best known for his role ‘Baba Yassin,’ renowned Kuwaiti artist Huda Hussein and Qatari media professor and academic Dr. Rabeea Bin Sabah Al Kawari.
Other prominent Arab guests at SCRF 2016 include Saudi Arabian actor and playwright Ibrahim Hamed Al Harthi, Jordanian writer Sana Al Hattab, Syrian writer Nabila Ahmed Ali and Iraqi writer and illustrator Ali Al Mendalawi.
The list of international guests at the festival includes US novelist Tom McNeill, US author Laura McNeil, children's book illustrator Michael Rex, British author Miriam Moss, writer John Walter, Australian author Christie Bern, Pakistani Cartoonist Nigar Nazar and author Russell Molina from the Philippines.
This year’s SCRF features a special stand for Majid TV channel, which will include reading sessions, comic stories, Majid animated film screenings, educational activities and talent discovery initiatives for children. Other main features on the programme are the play ‘Alice in the Land of Dwarves’ and the musical ‘My World… the Story of the Magic Mirror.’ There will also be fun bubble-themed entertainment shows performed by the master of bubbles, ‘Samsam Bubbleman.’
As part of its Cultural Programme, SCRF 2016 is hosting a series of intellectual seminars, cultural discussions and educational lectures given by a selection of prominent authors and intellectuals from around the globe. A range of other events, including story reading sessions, panel discussions and workshops about children’s literature, theatre and cinema, as well as activities related to bringing up children and developing their talents and cognitive abilities, are also being held as part of the programme.
Gifted children will be revealing their skills and talents at SCRF 2016’s ‘Little Innovator Café,’ which aims to highlight youngsters with special abilities and promote outstanding children as role models for their peers. Hosting an elite group of young geniuses from the UAE, Arab and foreign countries, the Little Innovator Café will feature a number of prominent innovations developed by young minds, with the list of Little Innovators including Yara Al Sheikh, Abdullah Ali Al Ahbabi, Tiara, Taneshek Abraham and others.
Food lovers will be able to make the most of SCRF 2016's Cookery Programme, which will host a group of celebrity chefs and nutrition experts. Among those taking part are Kuwaiti chef Intisar Ibrahim Al Mutawa, Food Manufacturing Consultant and Head of the Zahr Centre for Professional Training; Jordanian chef Rasha Hamdan and German chef Christina, author of the cookbook ‘Bembli for Family Cooking,’ which was the winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2014. Other guests taking part in the gourmet-focused array of activities at SCRF 2016 include Saransh Gulja and Mango Mallhi from India and Canadian chef Jennifer Lo, author of two bestselling children's books ‘Children's Kitchen’ and ‘Daily Kitchen of Children.'
Another significant highlight of SCRF 2016 is the 'Social Media Café.' Here, interviews will be held with famous Arab and foreign celebrities via social media to discuss issues related to books and children and the impact of digital development and social media on youngsters. The Social Media Café will host 11 luminary figures during the course of the festival.
The eighth edition of SCRF is sponsored by leading telecommunications provider Etisalat, Sharjah Media Corporation, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (represented by Expo Centre) and Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).
The launching of the eighth edition of Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival was attended by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and CEO of Kalimat Group, Sheikh Faisal Bin Saud Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Airport Authority, HE Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, chairman of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, HE Mohammed Mir Abdullah Al Raisi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAAIC), HE Major General Dr. Nasser Lakhraibani Al Nuaimi, Secretary General of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, HE Saeed Muisabah Al Kaabi, Chairman of the Sharjah Education Council, HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), HE Hana Saif Al Suwaidi
Chairperson of Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), HE Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA).