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SBA to hold virtual reading festival from May 27

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The online reading festival is being launched at a time when the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent

In an unprecedented cultural initiative in the history of Arabic culture, the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) will hold the Sharjah Virtual Reading Festival (SVRF) for 10 days, running from May 27 to June 5, 2020.

The online reading festival is being launched at a time when the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

A galaxy of acclaimed writers and authors from around the world will connect virtually at SVRF 2020 to offer book, literature and art enthusiasts an impressive array of creative cultural, literary and poetry sessions and workshops.

By launching the Sharjah Virtual Reading Festival, SBA is reinforcing its role as a cultural institution that upholds the sustainability of arts, culture and reading as key pillars of building a knowledge-based community.

SBA also recognises that at a time of enormous uncertainty, promoting access to culture and books and supporting the continuation of projects and activities brings the community together, providing them with inspiration and hope.

The move is also in line with the preventative and precautionary measures adopted by the UAE and nations across the world to ensure physical distancing and remote work policies. By bringing books and the culture of reading into people’s homes, it enables members of the society to enrich their cultural knowledge even when they are home-bound.

The 10-day reading extravaganza, targeting all community members of different age groups and nationalities will feature a series of cultural and literary sessions and interactive workshops hosted by celebrated Arab and foreign authors.

Further details of SVRF, registrations criteria, and mode of participation will be announced later.

Announcing the launch of the festival, SBA Chairman Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri emphasised that promotion of science, knowledge and culture are the main pillars of Sharjah’s cultural project, and a key driver for social inclusion and cohesion, especially in these trying times.

The launch of the virtual festival, he added, is in line with the vision to build a competitive and dynamic knowledge-based society and enhance cultural and human communication with all countries and peoples.

“In these circumstances, our responsibility towards society, readers and intellectuals has naturally doubled, and we intend to harness all means to contribute to their well-being by uplifting their artistic thought and creative processes. The launch of Sharjah Virtual Reading Festival underlines the necessity of making available cultural content and continuing to adapt projects in light of the extraordinary circumstances we are in,” Al Ameri said.

“Now more than ever, the role of culture, books and reading becomes more central to our lives,” he added. “The festival has been designed to have a far-reaching impact on the creation of creative societies in line with Sharjah’s cultural project, as knowledge and reading are key to the advancement of nations.”

The SBA Chairman said, “Rapid technological developments and innovative solutions are the hallmarks of the world we live in today. By leveraging the potential of these technologies, we aim to build on our rich cultures and create the right conditions for creativity and innovation to thrive.”

“The Sharjah Virtual Reading Festival offers a unique digital platform for intellectuals and creative minds from around the world to connect remotely, celebrate the full diversity of humanity’s cultural expressions, and share experiences and knowledge, even as the world works to mitigate the impact of COVID-19,” said Al Ameri.

“The festival is also an ideal opportunity for the literary community to reinforce how despite the physical distances, culture brings us together, keeping us connected and helping build resilient societies,” he concluded.

Following a series of preventive measures being implemented to safeguard children’s health and public health in general, the Sharjah Book Authority had postponed the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 2020. The 12th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) was scheduled to take place from April 8 – 18, 2020 at Sharjah Expo Centre.



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