Enlightening sessions on day one pay tribute to the role of women in the country’s development
Abu Dhabi-UAE: 26 April, 2018 – In the presence of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, The Sea of Culture Foundation’s Literary Salon, one of the showpiece events at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2018, today got off to a brisk start with informative talks and lively debates on the UAE’s culture and history by a host of leaders, intellectuals and academicians.
Addressing a diverse captive audience at the literary salon, Her Highness Sheikha Rowda bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan, Founder and Chairman of Sea of Culture, said: “Welcome to the land of knowledge, love and tolerance – the land that has become a melting pot for all the cultures of the world that enjoy living together in harmony. The UAE is a true model of peace under the direction of our wise leadership.”
She added: “We reunite today at this 2018 edition of the book fair to listen to illustrious thinkers and creators, and acquaint ourselves with their thoughts and knowledge. As is our custom on the first day, we start with a group of authors shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. I extend my congratulations to the candidates, and wish them a productive participation in our salon and continued success in their literary endeavours.”
Highlights of the day included a presentation by Professor Abla Al Nowais entitled ‘The Inspiring Journey of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation’. The session covered Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak’s immense achievements as Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.
Professor Al Nowais portrayed a woman, widely and fondly referred to as the Mother of the Nation, whose pioneering women’s empowerment efforts, contributions to national development and promotion of Islamic culture have won global recognition.
Another notable event on the agenda was the launch of the ‘Women of the UAE Encyclopaedia: From the Wisdom of Salama bint Butti to the Vision of the Mother of the Nation’ by Dr Rafia Ghubash. The distinguished author is a Dubai-based psychiatrist and epidemiologist, former president of Arabian Gulf University in Bahrain and founder of the Women’s Museum in Dubai, the first institution of its kind in the Arab world.
In addition to honouring the vision and achievements of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Dr Ghubash’s book also pays tribute to other leading Emirati women, including Sheikha Salama bint Butti, renowned for her vital work in shaping the modern UAE through the promotion of the key Islamic values of cooperation, generosity and hospitality.
During the evening session, Sea of Culture hosted the International Prize for Arabic Fiction Awardee Ibrahim Nasrallah for his dystopian novel ‘The Second War of the Dog’. In his acceptance speech, the Palestinian author praised the role of women in the Arab region and around the world for their help in establishing cultural institutions and reading clubs as vibrant forums for promoting culture, literature and art.
He said: “I thank the organisers of the literary awards for paying such a deeply appreciated tribute to writers, and for raising the profile of new writers and pushing them to develop their work while also encouraging experienced writers to be more creative.”
Offering fascinating insights into the UAE’s illustrious history and the country’s deep and diverse cultural heritage, the salon emphasised the participation and education of the youth that will form the UAE’s next generation of cultural leaders and role models. The event also explored other essential topics of interest, including the impact of technology on culture, the history of the UAE, the future of writing and reading, and the role of culture in society.
Over the coming days, the Sea of Culture Foundation’s Literary Salon will feature more distinguished speakers including Her Excellency Dr Aisha bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office, His Excellency Jamal bin Huwaireb, CEO of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, His Excellency Abdullah Al Majid, Assistant Undersecretary for Support Services at the Ministry of Justice, and His Excellency Omar Saif Ghobash, UAE Ambassador to France.
Also on the agenda is the screening of a selection of famous films based on seminal novels, including Naguib Mahfouz's ‘Adrift on the Nile’, Gabriel García Marquez's ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ and Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’.
Organised by the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2018 is the latest edition of the fastest-growing event of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa. The fair runs from 25 April to 1 May at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.