Good number of Hindi translations from Sharjah!

Salim Omar Salim, Director of Sharjah Publishing City in conversation with GS Jolly (GSJ) of All About Book Publishing shares his views on their participation at New Delhi World Book Fair 2019 and publishing
scene in Sharjah.

GS Jolly with Salim Omar Salim
GS Jolly with Salim Omar Salim

New Delhi World Book Fair, undoubtedly the largest event in the realm of books in the Afro- Asian biosphere was held from 5-13 January 2019. Sharjah, the guest of Honour country presented a fabulous exhibition of literary art and culture of the region. Salim Omar Salim, Director of Sharjah Publishing City in conversation with GSJolly (GSJ) of All About Book Publishing shared his views on the participation and publishing scene in Sharjah.

GSJ: Tell us something about Sharjah being the Guest of Honour country at the New Delhi World Book Fair 2019.

Salim: Participation of Sharjah in New Delhi book Fair is not new. We have been here for the past 15 years. We have been continuously participating and the publishers in India are one of the main attractions for us. We come here to further their business in the region of the Arabs. In India, the quality of books in English and other languages is very good. Secondly, being the Guest of Honour country, we are here to showcase our culture, our publications and the programmes of Sharjah Book Authority.

GSJ: What have you emphasized to showcase at New Delhi World Book Fair?

Salim: One of the main things we are emphasizing is the publications from Sharjah. A bunch of publications came from H.H. Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi. He himself is an author, intellectual, and scholar. Every year he publishes 1-3 books. I must say that he is the most educated ruler in the world. We are showcasing some of his works. We are also showcasing other books and publications of 40-50 Emirati authors.

GSJ: In the keynote address H E Ahmad bin Rakkad al Ameri urged Indian publishers to take advantage of the low logistic costs offered by Sharjah Publishing City. Will you please elaborate a bit?

Salim: Sharjah would be a hub for all publishers who branch out from other world.We are at the center of the world, making logistic and infrastructure easy. We have high end infrastructure in the region because of development in the country. Besides, we are covering about 200 countries either by plane or ship. Another thing is that we are logistically very cheap. In terms of time taken and duration, it is much less time consuming. For example, in terms of period and duration,it is much less than shipping directly from China to Africa.

GSJ: Sharjah Book Authority is said to be the manifestation of the vision of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi to transform his nation and the Arab world using ‘Power of the written word.’ What are the notable initiatives of the SBA?

Salim: We at Sharjah Book Authority are handling Sharjah Publishing City. We organize SharjahBook Fair which is the largest book fair. We also organize Children Book Exhibition. We also manage Sharjah Public Library. There are six libraries in Sharjah only. Our collection of books and manuscripts is very large. A project is in pipeline which will handle distribution and publishing under the umbrella of Sharjah Publishing City.

GSJ: It is a pleasant surprise to see the widely acclaimed autobiography of H. H. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi along with Hindi translation. We are told that H. H. is a scholar of repute. Please tell us about some more of H H’s writings.

Salim: H.H. is writing on various subjects. He has written the history of the region. He has also written novels. He speaks fluent Hindi and has a fairly good knowledge of Urdu. His books have been translated in various languages.

GSJ: Calligraphy or Khatt is artistic ancient practice of handwriting. Your pavilion is giving a glimpse of this art. What initiatives are being made in Sharjah to keep this ancient art alive?

Salim: This is another initiative by H.H. He is also a calligraphy artist. He has a good grasp over this art. He has brought all the calligraphers at one place. We train them. There are galleries for calligraphers. We organize calligraphy festivals where the artists perform their work. We are presenting some of them here at the Book Fair. One of the calligraphers is writing the names of the visitors in calligraphy.

GSJ: HE Ahmed Al Ameri has somewhere mentioned that Indians constitute a sizeable percentage of population. In what way it contributes to the social and literary fabric of the Emirates?

Salim: It is true we have about four million Indians expats living in UAE. They are there for the past fifty years. Some of them are in the second generation. They are helping the country in education and lifestyle. They are source of knowledge of Indian people. They have mixed up with our people to the extent that though our currency is Dirham; people from here call it Rupee. That is the type of relationship we have with Indians living there.

GSJ: It is a pleasure to see a large number of books translated in Hindi. Is translation of more Arabic classics in Hindi on the planning board of SBA?

Salim: At Sharjah Book Authority, we have a section for translations. We support translations. Books are translated from Arabic to Hindi. Translating into Hindi is much easier here as we have a large number of people who know both the languages. We do have difficulty with other languages but not with India.

GSJ: Congratulations for Sharjah being declared by the UNESCO as the world Book Capital in the year 2019. How are you going to celebrate that?

Salim: We have been working hard for this event. It is not just an award but an opportunity for the benefit of the community. Sharjah was also declared as the Cultural Capital of the Arab by UNESCO. We were also declared the Cultural Capital of the Islamic world in 2014.It is, indeed, a great honour.

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