12 fun-filled, delightful days await children as SBA announces the 13th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival agenda
Themed ‘Create Creativity’, the May 11-22 event in Expo Centre Sharjah will see creatives, authors, and actors descend on the festival
Sharjah, April 27, 2022
The Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) will run for a longer 12-day duration this year as it is a comprehensive festival designed not only for children but also for parents, authors, illustrators and publishers, said HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), while announcing the elaborate plans for the region’s biggest child- and youth-focused literary event. Organised by SBA, the 13th edition of SCRF will get under way at Expo Centre Sharjah on May 11, and carry the theme ‘Create Creativity’.
The international festival held under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), will bring together authors and creatives of global renown to lead more than 1,900 activities, including vibrant panel discussions on a variety of topics central to children’s literature and publishing.
SCRF 2022 also will be home to 139 publishers from 15 countries who will showcase their latest book releases and best-selling titles.
The details of the festival were revealed on Tuesday, April 26, at a press conference at the SBA headquarters in Sharjah in the presence of HE Ahmed Al Ameri; HE Abdulaziz Taryam, CEO, Advisor and General Manager of Etisalat – Northern Emirates; HE Rashid Abdullah Al Obed, Director of the Sharjah Broadcasting Authority; Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SCRF; Mansour Al Hassani, Head of Sales, SBA, in addition to cultural figures and media representatives.
A new chapter in Sharjah’s cultural project
In his keynote speech, HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: “Today we open a new chapter of a story written more than three decades ago by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA). It is a story that highlights a pillar in the emirate’s cultural project built on the power of books and their role in shaping our future”.
“Each year during SCRF, I can see the vision of the festival being realised as key investments of knowledge and creativity in young minds. His Highness and Her Highness taught us that nations are built by the hands and minds of children, and therefore, SCRF is investing in building the future of our country by paving the way for our children and youth to attain their goals and be loyal patrons of Sharjah’s cultural vision as well as our rich Arab culture,” he added.
For his part, HE Abdulaziz Taryam said: “This edition of the festival testifies to the continuation of the vision of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan al Qasimi and HH Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi to strengthen Sharjah’s commitment to nurturing children and youth as builders of the future. Etisalat believes in doing all things possible to enhance the creativity of young creators. As patrons of this creative venture, Etisalat is keen on bolstering the community-focused efforts led by His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah.”
HE Rashid Abdullah Al Obed described SCRF a seed planted by His Highness that is growing well now. He added: “Our sponsorship of the festival is part of Sharjah Broadcasting Authority’s vision to actively promote Sharjah’s cultural project, celebrate the emirate’s achievements and present it as a model to the world”.
“For this edition, we are dedicating an expert team of colleagues comprising journalists, presenters and technicians who will execute live coverage of the festival, broadcast special interviews with authors and guests, cover literary discussions, and air special segments on our dedicated Akhbar Al Dar news platform”, Al Obed further noted.
Investing in the younger generations
Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SCRF, conveyed the excitement of hosting an event well-conceived: “We included clay in the logo of the new edition to denote the pliability of the children’s creativity and imagination – a capacity they can harness and should fully harness to create their own worlds”.
“Through SCRF’s theme ‘Create Creativity’, we want to encourage our young visitors to see themselves as creators. To ignite their creative prowess, we have designed more than 1,900 intellectually stimulating and challenging activities which will be led by guests from around the world. This programme agenda is segregated into 1,140 child activities, 120 cultural activities and 130 artistic performances and theatre productions, we want to convey that knowledge and books are the tools to build their future,” she added.
SCRF 2022 will host the inaugural edition of the Booksellers Conference from May 15 – 16. The first of its kind in the world, the conference will bring together more than 200 distributors from around the world to the SBA headquarters to discuss ways to strengthen and advance the publishing sector and distribution channels in order to facilitate the reach of knowledge sources to the public.
For his part, Mansour Al Hassani, Head of Sales, SBA, said the conference will highlight best practices in book sales and distribution. This will include digital strategies and working with publishers, writers, schools, literary and cultural festivals, inventory management, and creating new business models.
He added that the conference will provide authors a platform to network with participating booksellers and distributors to explore new market opportunities. The event will play a key role in strengthening Sharjah’s status as an international publishing hub, he further noted.
Meeting international artists and creatives
SCRF visitors will have the opportunity to attend a concert featuring composer and singer Tarek Alarabi and his children. Mohamed Henedi, Egyptian actor and comedian, and Kyle Balda, American animator and the director of Minions, Jumanji, and Toy Story 2 are other star attractions.
For the first time, the festival is organising the Robot Zoo, an exhibition of eight animal robots and 15 hands-on activities. The exhibit is based on the book The Robot Zoo conceived, edited and designed by Marshall Editions of London, United Kingdom. It provides young children new insights and fun activities on animal behaviour.
This year, SCRF hosts 139 publishers from 15 Arab and foreign countries. The UAE is topping the list with 76 publishers; Lebanon 15; Egypt, Syria, and Jordan seven each; and United States five. Kuwait, Qatar, Sudan, Morocco, India, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq are the other participating countries.
International and Arab Authors
The festival’s agenda includes 120 cultural activities led by 43 international guests from 21 countries. The guests include: Mireia Trius, Spanish author of Me and the World, and others; Radiya Hafiza, UK-based author of Rumaysa: A Fairytale and Rumaysa: Ever After; Yasmin Rahman, award-winning author of This Is My Truth; Curtis Jobling, bestselling writer from the UK of who authored the Wereworld series; Kobi Yamada, American author of What Do You Do With An Idea?, What Do You Do With A Problem?; Claire Legrand, bestselling author of the Empirium Trilogy; and Shanda McCloskey, American author of DOLL-E 1.0; Ken Spillman, Australian author of Big Noah Little Boa; Vibha Batra, Indian author of Incognito; and Priya Kuriyan, Indian author of Ammachi’s Glasses, among others.
Guests from Egypt include media personality Qaswa Al Khalali; Essam Yousef, author of ¼ Gram; Omar Taher, author of Kohl wa Habhan; and Effat Barakat, author of Hind Tasnaa Al Hakaya. From Lebanon, Dr. Tariq Ahmed Al Bakri, author of 50 children’s short stories, will participate in the festival, along with authors Falah Hashem and Intelaq Ali from Iraq. The festival will also host renowned names from Russia, Pakistan, South Africa, Kenya, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Bahrain, Oman and Tunisia.
Young readers will have the opportunity to participate in 1,140 activities and workshops presented by 11 experts and specialists from 14 countries. Of the 750 workshops and 130 art and theatre shows, the most notable are Magic School Bus, Magic Lab, The Mystical Garden Ice Skating, Brick People, Akbar the great Nahi Rahe and Zetura.
Introducing the ‘Kids in Action’ section
The Kids in action section is open to children aged 3-5 years, where 264 creative and interactive activities will try to stimulate their five senses in a fun-filled atmosphere.
Children and youth will have the opportunity to explore the world of comics through more than 100 activities led by a host of artists and creatives from around the world.
Social Media Station
The Social Media Station will host 12 influencers and content creators who will lead 25 workshops and activities that will shine light on the latest techniques used in creating content on digital platforms.
The popular Cookery Corner returns this edition with more than 30 culinary activities presented by eight renowned chefs from seven countries. The chefs are Ciara Attwell and Sally Bee from the UK, Dario Stephen from the US, Thabet Sham Al Assil from Syria, Najlaa Shershaby from Egypt, Anis Nabilah from Malaysia, Fatina Daher (Lebanon), and Nidal Al Braihi Jordan.
Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition
SCRF will host the 10th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition, where 23 workshops and 296 artists and illustrators from 48 countries will exhibit their works. The artists include 77 from Arab nations and 219 from around the world.
In line with SCRF’s vision to support and improve the visual content of children’s books in Arabic, this year’s edition will bring together more than 50 Emirati and Arab publishers and illustrators at the Children’s Book Makers Platform (Ufuq). The platform aims to promote children’s books in Arabic that feature high-quality visual content capable of attracting Arab speakers worldwide.
Poetry Knight competition
In keeping with its dedication to develop the talents of youth and instill a love of the Arabic language, the SCRF organises the ‘Poetry Knight’ literary competition in collaboration with the SCFA. The contest encourages young talents to hone their recitation and public performance skills. First, second and third place winners of the Poetry Knight competition will receive AED 3,000, AED 2,000 and AED 1,000 respectively.
The festival is supported by a host of sponsors and partners, including Etisalat (official sponsor), Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (official media partner), and Expo Centre Sharjah (strategic partner).