Sharjah has been named World Book Capital for 2019 by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The honour is a recognition of the emirate’s pioneering role in supporting and expanding the local and regional publishing industries, promoting reading to become an intrinsic cultural practice, as well as embracing intercultural, knowledge-based dialogue, a statement said.
Sharjah was previously named Capital of Arab Culture (1998), Capital of Islamic Culture (2014), and Capital of Arab Tourism (2015).
UNESCO said Sharjah was chosen due to the quality and diversity of its year-long cultural programme. As World Book Capital 2019, Sharjah will be rolling out a wide range of activities and events over the year. Specialised committees will be formed to organise and supervise these events.
Sharjah is the 19th city to become World Book Capital and previous cities include Madrid, New Delhi, Montreal and Buenos Aires while Athens will have the honour next year.
Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, president of the Emirates Publishers Association and head of Sharjah’s World Book Capital Organising Committee, said: “We are so proud to have been recognised on a global scale for literary excellence, and having our name being put on the same platform with some of the world’s frontrunners in the world of books and reading. "Sharjah has now reached a point where it can be safely said that it is a driver of knowledge in the region.”
Sharjah already hosts more than 1,500 publishers from across the world at the Sharjah International Book Fair while it also organises the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival which attracts over 300,000 visitors annually.
Sharjah has also adopted a proactive strategic vision to develop and galvanise the publishing sector in the region – an approach that was reflected in the establishment of Sharjah Publishing City to solidify the emirate’s stature as a global hub for the sector.
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