- Initiative aims to give Arab children better access to their native language
- Bodour Al Qasimi: ‘Reading helps cement bonds between cultures’
Dubai, UAE, September 30, 2017: Kalimat Foundation for Children’s Empowerment (Kalimat Foundation) has presented the children in Gothenburg from Arab origins, with 2000 Arabic books. This was organized in coordination with the Foreign Languages Section of the Stockholm Public Library – known as the International Library – that will distribute the books to 25 libraries across Sweden, with the initiative aiming to better connect Arab children in Sweden with their mother tongue.
Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Chairperson of Kalimat Foundation, highlighted that providing Arab child immigrants and refugees with books written in their own language enhances their national identity and ensures emotional communication with their countries of origin. Sheikha Bodour reiterated that it gives them the opportunity to introduce their rich Arabic culture and language to their peers in foreign countries and enables them to discover common human bonds.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi also visited Gothenburg Library, where she was introduced to the library’s different sections and publications that is being offered to its visitor, in addition to the book selections process and the activities that is being organised to promote reading among the public.
“The responsibility of publishers and knowledge-makers in the Arab world goes beyond publishing and distributing books, it is becoming partners in the creation of generations of readers and in enriching the experiences of displaced Arab children by providing them with education and entertainment sources in their own language,” said Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi.
“Arab readers who live in non-Arab speaking countries are hungry for books and titles published in their home region. This is where the Kalimat Foundation steps in, as it is committed to providing children with material that they can engage with and which fosters their abilities. This role stems from the foundation’s strong belief in the power and influence of books as a source of knowledge which can open channels of dialogue and lay solid groundwork for the promotion of peace, love and harmony,” she added.
Fatin Dierki, Chief Librarian of the International Library in Stockholm, expressed her appreciation of the significant addition of titles, with the books being received at the Gothenburg City Library in conjunction with the Gothenburg Book and Library Fair. From there, a collection of the books will be distributed to libraries across western Sweden.
“We thank Kalimat Foundation for Children’s Empowerment for supporting our library with these books, which will be available for all Arab children in Sweden to read. The international Library supports Public Libraries across Sweden with titles in different languages and from different cultures,” she said.
From April 2016, Arabic has become the second most commonly spoken language in Sweden, displacing Finnish which had held the position for hundreds of years. According to the Swedish Central Bureau of Statistics (Statistika Centralbryan), the Syrian community is the largest of the Arab diaspora in Sweden, numbering 158,000 people, followed by the Iraqi community, which is estimated at 136,000 people.
The books will contribute to meeting the needs of Swedish children of Arab origin, as well as Arab immigrants and refugees in the Scandinavian countries, a total estimated at more than half a million people.
The significant number of books being presented by Kalimat Foundation will support reading sessions and communal activities in Sweden throughout the year. It is anticipated that these sessions will enjoy even more Arab engagement in the future, with the books also allowing Swedish schools to educate Arab children about their culture, traditions and heritage.
Since its inception in April 2016, Kalimat Foundation has been engaged in an extensive programme of launching and implementing initiatives that facilitate the provision of public libraries and refugee camps with books. It seeks to give children in disadvantaged areas access to sources of knowledge, in keeping with its dedication to ensuring every child’s right to read. Kalimat Foundation believes in the positive impact of books on creating a future knowledge-based Arab generation that has a broad understanding of its own and of global cultures.