– by Jaihoon

Part one of a series of essays on Sharjah International Book Fair 2011

Cultivating Arts & Culture

A major part of today’s problems arise due to our impatience for the fruits of our hard work. We yearn for the harvest just the day after the planting without waiting for the seed to mature, the water and sunlight to reach, for the crop to grow and then wait for the fruit.

The incredible success of the Sharjah International Book Fair was in reality a harvest whose seeds were sown some three decades ago in the culturally fertile soil of the emirate of Sharjah.

Dr. Sheikh Sultan, the ruler of Sharjah, is a man who has a very clear idea about the intellectual future of the people of this nation. His scholarship is as amazing his magnanimity. Himself an author of several books and an incessant patron of arts and cultural activities at home and abroad, the scholarly Sheikh is unparalleled among the rulers of the region or even rest of the world.

Beauty in Diversity

Sharjah has evolved to become the literary and cultural powerhouse of the region and its biggest investment has been in culture and related fields. And the large-hearted ‘Cultural Architect’ has built the foundation of his society on the basis of diversity and pluralism. (http://gulftoday.ae/portal/3bdfceb2-27fc-43d0-b366-d631d651bd56.aspx). Sharjah already boasts of several churches for different denominations for the Christian believers. The recently opened Russian Orthodox Church in Sharjah became the biggest of its kind outside the former Soviet Union for the 200,000 Orthodox Church members living in the country — mostly in Sharjah.

No one living in the present with a minimum level of awareness will hesitate to agree on the pluralistic nature of our times. And the world cannot go ahead without tolerance and respect for each others’ beliefs and thoughts. The Sharjah Book Fair attempted to find beauty in this diversity of human experiences.

With India as the country focus, the Fair attracted huge crowds from the Indian community, the largest demographic group in the country’s population. It also had women writers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and other Gulf countries. Poets from the United States and novelists from United Kingdom also added to the hues of the literary rainbow that shone in the skies above the emirate.

Write books, write off prejudice

Peter James, the crime novelist from UK, says that Shakespeare wrote plays because not many in England could read in those days. The Sharjah International Book Fair proved to be an excellent opportunity to learn how to write books and simultaneously write off the prejudices which comes as a result of the ignorance.

The leadership of any community has to ensure there is no fear in the minds of its people, for, fear will make them see only the thorn and NOT the rose.

Pluralism is not a sign of cowardice but of courage and pragmatism to appreciate the diversity in the scheme of Almighty’s creations. And there is nothing like it which is so direly needed at the moment in the Arab world. It is not just the Spring, but all the four seasons which together give life its complete glory.