Sultan Al Qasimi opens region’s largest children’s reading event

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Sharjah / WAM

His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, on Wednesday opened the ninth Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, SCRF 2017, the region’s largest children’s reading event, at Expo Centre Sharjah.
Running until April 29, this year’s festival has the theme ‘Discover Beyond’ and features 2,093 cultural, artistic and entertainment activities, with 123 exhibitors and 179 guests from across the world taking part.
With its theme of Discover Beyond, SCRF 2017’s focus this year is on children’s spirit of discovery, which is not limited to science or space but includes every experience and each new world that can be opened with the turn of a page. The festival aims to imbue a spirit of inquisition and the means to find answers to the burning questions that occupy young minds.
Following the ceremony, HH Sheikh toured the stands of local, Arab and international publishing houses taking part, as well as the stalls of several cultural and educational institutions, where he was briefed on the publications displayed and the activities taking place during the 11 days of the festival.
He visited the stands of the Ministry of Education; the ‘Wahat Al Karama’, the memorial site in the capital of Abu Dhabi that was established to honour Emirati martyrs and immortalise their sacrifices for the nation; the exhibition’s central feature ‘Brain: The Inside Story’ – a special installation organised by the American Museum of Natural History in New York during SCRF, as well as the Kalimat Group.

In the presence of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and CEO of Kalimat Group, Amna Al Mazmi, Manager of Kalimat Foundation, introduced Kalimat Foundation for Children’s Empowerment, outlining its vision and goals. She also revealed the details of the group’s recently launched initiative, ‘Ara’ (‘I see’). Visitors are able to experience Ara at the Kalimat stand through an interactive wall displaying audiobooks and Braille reading mechanisms.

“Since its establishment, the Kalimat Foundation has been working on the most effective strategies to reach out to underprivileged children in areas affected by war and crises with books, reading material and other sources of knowledge. It is also striving to provide specialised assistance to children with certain health conditions that prevent them from reading or pursuing knowledge using their natural faculties,” said Al Mazmi.

During his visit to the Social Services Department stand, Sheikh Sultan launched a first-of-its-kind e-training program for parents. The program is a step-by-step guide which parents can use to teach their children how to say “no” when they find themselves in a manipulative social situation.

Sheikh Sultan also honoured the winners of the sixth Sharjah Children’s Book Illustrations Exhibition which features 303 artworks by 90 illustrators from across the world.

Alejandro Galindo Buitrago from Spain came in the first place receiving US$8,000. Marco Soma from Italy came in second place ($6,000), followed in third place by Ester Garcia Cortes from Spain ($4,000). Three incentive prizes valued at $1,000 each went to Esteli Meza from Mexico, Cristina Pieropan from Italy and Hany Saleh from Egypt.

The Ruler of Sharjah also honoured the winners of the SCRF Awards 2017. The Award for the Best Arabic Children’s Book for age group 4-12 years went to Rania Zainab for her work ‘Every Day,’ with Abeer Al Taher receiving the prize on her behalf. The Arabic Young Adult Book Award that targets children aged 13-17 years was given to Dr. Ibrahim Shalabi for his book ‘Wasim Tours,’ while the International Children’s Book Award was secured by Michelle Zilkoski for her title ‘The Boy Who Knew the Mountains.’

Sheikh Sultan also honoured the winners of the Sharjah Award for Library Literature in its three categories. Dr Amani Mohammed Al Sayyed won the first place for her work ‘Archive Systems and Document Management at Institutions – an Exploratory Study of Technical and Functional Requirements.’ Second place went to Ayman Mohammed Ibrahim El Desouki for his research ‘The Fifth Generation of Wireless Telecommunication Networks: Future Insights for the Preparation of a Strategic Framework for a Unified Arab Archive,’ while Ahmed Othman Ahmed took third place for his study ‘Electronic Archiving in the UAE: A Study on its Reality and Planning for its Future.’

A number of sheikhs, minister and senior officials attended the opening ceremony.

The SCRF 2017’s cultural programme brings together more than 60 guests from 23 countries to participate in 40 activities.

Other programmes on the event’s agenda include the Cookery Programme, with its 83 activities bringing in 14 guests from 14 countries to take part in three main activities that comprise live cooking demonstrations, cooking competitions and the ‘Little Chef.’

SCRF 2017 is also hosting the Little Innovator Cafe, which offers a platform for visitors to meet talented children in the fields of literature, sports, science and art. Youngsters who have achieved remarkable successes will be sharing their stories with the audience and speaking about their innovations, achievements and ambitions.

This year, a galaxy of Arab and foreign authors, media personalities, artists and education experts are taking part in the festival.

The highly-acclaimed international authors attending SCRF 2017 include Gayle Forman, American journalist and New York Times best-selling author of ‘Just One Day’ and ‘Just One Year,’ Kwame Alexander, American poet and New York Times best-selling author of ‘He Said, She Said’ and Korky Paul, British children’s book illustrator.

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