Sharjah: HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), welcomed a delegation from the Republic of Colombia headed by Andres Ossa, Director of the Regional Center for the Promotion of Books in Latin America and the Caribbean, and his deputy, Juanita Escallón Vicariate, Publications Coordinator.

At a meeting held at the SBA headquarters recently, the two parties discussed the strengthening of cultural relations between the two sides and explored ways to further translations of works between the two cultures. They also discussed opportunities to organise joint activities, including book fairs and children's festivals, to facilitate expertise and knowledge exchange between Sharjah and Colombia.

During the meeting, Al Ameri highlighted the pivotal role played by the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) which serves as a gateway into the Arab publishing market and outlined the goals of the Sharjah Children's Reading Festival (SCRF), which together, provide publishers with an opportunity to expand and market their works to 950 million readers in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The meeting also highlighted outcomes of the inaugural edition of the Booksellers Conference held during the 13th edition of SCRF in May 2022 where industry stakeholders discussed ways to strengthen and advance the publishing sector and distribution channels to facilitate and expand the reach of diverse knowledge sources to the public.

The visiting delegation was led on a tour of the Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPC Free Zone) and briefed on the myriad benefits offered to its investors and publishers.

The SBA Chairman gifted the Colombian delegation copies of the Spanish translations of books authored by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, including My Early Life, and Bibi Fatima and the King's Sons.

HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri said: "During the visit of the Colombian delegation, we showcased the efforts of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who launched and led the emirate’s cultural project that has transformed Sharjah into an international hub for culture and creative industries. These efforts, which span more than 40 years, continue to play a pivotal role in the emirate’s development project and are founded on the belief in the power of books and knowledge to build bridges with various cultures around the world.”

The SBA Chairman added: "Sharjah and the Republic of Colombia are bound by strong cultural relations. Colombia participated in SIBF for the first time in 2021, and we look forward to strengthening our cultural ties in line with SBA’s vision of exchanging knowledge and expertise in the translation and publishing sectors to take the industry forward."

For his part, Andres Ossa, Director of the Regional Center for the Promotion of Books in Latin America and the Caribbean, said: “Colombia views Sharjah as a destination that fosters cross-cultural communication with nations across the world while SIBF is a perfect international cultural platform to shine a light on the Emirati and Arab culture. Our participation at SIBF was an opportunity to introduce the Republic's culture and its creative efforts to audiences in the Arab region.”