Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 2018 Receives 247,000 Visitors

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• SCRF 2018 welcomes 286 international writers, illustrators and academics
• Chairman of SBA: SCRF exemplifies Sharjah’s belief in the importance of developing next generations to contribute to nation building

The Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) drew the curtain on its 10th edition on Saturday, with the event attracting 247,000 visitors over its 11-day run, more than 52,000 of which were school students. Organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), SCRF 2018 was held under the theme ‘Your Future… Just a Book Away’ at Expo Centre Sharjah from April 18-28.

The region’s most popular children’s literary event saw the participation of 134 publishers and 268 authors, illustrators, poets, artists and academics from across the world who engaged in a line-up of 2,600 cultural, educational and entertainment events.

Covering 2,233 square metres, SCRF 2018 witnessed 694 school visits and organised 1,059 specialised events for children that engaged 45 authors, illustrators and education experts hailing from 17 countries.

The festival also welcomed 13 guests from nine countries who presented 134 culinary events as well as a series of morning workshops and activities for school pupils and teachers. A variety of educational workshops were also held in collaboration with the most celebrated and qualified centres of their kind in scientific, technical and educational fields.

Young visitors were treated to a series of Arabic and international theatrical performances that highlighted basic humanitarian values to young visitors, including the international favourite, ‘Tuta and Monkey Cheetah’ and ‘Island of Kids’ Area’ from Kuwait, as well as the truly impressive virtual reality illusion show ‘Hara Hiroki’ from Japan.

ahmed-al-ameriHE Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: “The Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival goes from strength to strength in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah, and with the support of His Highness’s wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawahar bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, who are committed to providing every opportunity to contribute to the advancement of younger generations. Their visions stem from Sharjah’s firm belief in equipping future generations with determination, persistence, knowledge and culture.”

He added: “The 10th edition of SCRF has succeeded in developing the capacity of talented younger generations by combining learning and fun through practical and creative experiences. This was managed by conducting interactive workshops themed on laboratories, bringing children closer to books and other sources of knowledge.”

The SBA Chairman continued: “This forward-thinking approach has earned SCRF a strong reputation as a major cultural platform, much-anticipated every year by families seeking to broaden their children’s horizons.

“SCRF has never been merely a place for books, seminars and workshops, but an integrated event that has continued to help younger generations keep pace with the latest in science, literature and theatre, consolidating its role as a carnival of knowledge, learning and fun.”

In conclusion, Al Ameri said: “With the closing of each edition of the festival, we turn a new page of Sharjah’s continuous cultural experience, with the determination to carry on with our approach towards a more innovative society. In its 10 year run, the festival has managed to leave an impressive imprint in terms of nurturing and fostering young talents and creative potential. SCRF has become a role model in connecting new generations and publishers, and educational institutions and families.”

Visual theme engaging younger generations in knowledge and culture

This year’s edition of SCRF exemplified its vision to establish a love of culture in future generations, bring them closer to books and inspire them to read as a basis for development and growth.

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Four new characters were brought to the Expo Centre; ‘Wamda’ (Flash), ‘Qalam (Pen), ‘Noqta’ (Dot) and Shuaa’ (Beam) – who accompanied the young festival-goers on their journey of fun and learning. The names of the characters were chosen as part of a SCRF social media contest. Through these characters, SBA moves closer to making the SCRF vision relatable to young readers, by offering them the benefits of reading and learning in fun, playful and creative ways.

Acknowledging the digital age and rapid technological advances, SCRF 2018 organised the ‘Future Machine’ exhibition, featuring a series of insightful and entertaining activities that were tailored specifically to appeal to young people and broaden their horizons in understanding science and technology.

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The exhibition encompassed live visual shows offering children more insights into the future, including models that run on the concept of artificial intelligence and the robotics.

To reinforce this, the festival hosted Fun Robotics, the first centre in the UAE dedicated to developing knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering and mechanics for children and adults. Workshops were also supervised by the British group ‘Perfect Investigators’, which specialises in crime simulation through theatre.

SCRF’s Social Media café hosted a number of famous social media influencers, who gave valuable advice to the children. Through numerous activities, the influencers provided information and insights to strengthen the youngsters’ awareness about the risks of sharing information via social networking platforms, and provided them with tips on how to use online channels safely and beneficially.

The Live Cooking station hosted an impressive galaxy of top chefs who engaged in 134 events spanning a range of demonstrations as well as the Junior Chef Challenge.

Some of the most prominent guests on the cookery stage included Canadian chef Bal Arneson, British chef Nancy McDougall, Californian Lara Star, who is also a children’s book publicist at Chronicle Books and Canadian Arab chef Suzanne Husseini. Other guests included Emirati chef Majida Jassim who showed the audience her talent, skills and unique culinary methods in preparing special recipes that combine international and Gulf cooking techniques.

For the first time, the festival organised a 3D book exhibition that brought together 250 pop-up books from the 3D Book Centre in the Italian city of Forli. The books represented eight periods in time, starting with The Beginnings (1880), From Three Dimensions to Modelling (1920), The Birth of the Concept Model (1930), The Fan (1940), The Global Achievement (1950), Kopasta Books (1960), Phase of Modelling Books (1970) and the New Amazing Millennium (2000).

During the event, 104 illustrators from 32 countries showcased 355 artworks at the seventh edition of the Sharjah Exhibition for Children’s Books Illustrations. The UAE topped the ranks in terms of participation, with 12 Emirati illustrators, 29 others were from Arab countries and 67 from the rest of the world.

Special celebrities
This year’s edition of the festival hosted a stellar line-up of Arab and foreign authors, artists and actors, namely famous Egyptian TV and cinema actress Sabrin, and Algerian artist Tareq Al Arabi Tarkan, who has written over 1,000 songs and created scripts for several TV shows and famous animated films. SCRF also welcomed Syrian actress and dubbing artist Amal Hawijeh, who has been the voice of much-loved animated film characters, and Moroccan artist Safwan Luqah, who specialises in children’s book illustrations.

The festival also hosted a galaxy of academics, including Dr Reem Al Fawwaz, assistant professor and researcher in Children’s Literature and Literary Criticism at the Arabic Language Department of the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, as well as Toqa Abdelrahim, a teacher and civil activist who founded the ‘Whites’ initiative on women’s and children’s issues.

Other Emirati participants included writer and storyteller Dr. Abdul Redha Sajwani, writer and illustrator Noon Abdullah, illustrator Asma Al Rumaithi, illustrator Alia Al Badi and novelist Nadia Al Najjar.

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Prominent foreign guests included British children’s book author, Sibéal Pounder, American poet and author Mark Gonzalez, award-winning Indian children’s author Natasha Sharma, Indian actor and producer Varun Pruthi, British children’s author and illustrator Ed Vere, and American award-winning children’s author, Miranda Paul.

SCRF 2018 was held in collaboration with a selection of sponsors and partners including Etisalat (Official Sponsor), Sharjah Media Corporation (Media Sponsor) and Expo Centre Sharjah (Strategic Partner), in addition to other institutions and agencies that participated in organising cultural and educational events.

SCRF is one of the most important cultural events dedicated to children in the UAE and the greater region. It has gone beyond being a book exhibition and developed into an integrated event that contributes to enriching the knowledge of visitors with science and literature and garners the participation of organisations and centres dedicated to children.

**Please note, Thumbay Group, Gulf Medical University, and HEALTH magazine are not liable nor responsible for the facts, figures, and overall content of the press releases on our portal.

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