SHARJAH — Sharjah, the 2019 UNESCO World Book Capital, has hosted representatives from most UNESCO-designated World Book Capital cities to reflect on their individual stories and discuss strategies to strengthen their legacy while sharing their experiences with future holders of the status.
At the preliminary meeting of the Expert Group of the World Book Capital Cities Network, the emirate hosted 16 World Book Capital cities, including Guadalajara, the 2022 World Book Capital, at the House of Wisdom, a futurist cultural hub built to commemorate the UNESCO honour to Sharjah.
Discussions centred on the network’s mission and strategic objectives to strengthen cooperation, develop knowledge sharing and good practices among network members, strengthen the cities’ commitment to promoting books and reading, particularly in the wake of the global pandemic, which hit the book sector severely. This network, alongside the Cities for Literature (part of the Creative Cities Network) highlights UNESCO’s commitment to authors’ creativity, books and reading.
Welcoming the guests, IPA President, Bodour Al Qasimi, stated that the 2019 title had not only reinforced the emirate’s status as a regional cultural hub but positively impacted the development of its book industry and reading culture.
She added that the power and beauty of being a WBC city is that such positive benefits last for years and offer a chance to reinforce social cohesion through books and promote cultural dialogue.
Expressing her pleasure in hosting the first meeting of the World Book Capital Network, Al Qasimi called on all previous WBC cities to collaborate and stay connected to improve the impact of the prestigious title and enhance the positive benefits it brings to the industry.
“A strong network that builds on the momentum of the WBC honour will benefit cities and future generations through the exchange of ideas on the legacy of the title,” Al Qasimi added.
Alongside the networking event, an open design exhibition organised at the House of Wisdom drew further attention to the unique footprints and literary legacies of the 22 WBC cities. An installation featuring a cloud of pages cascading down in different languages was the main highlight, along with large panels depicting the achievements of the former WBC cities, including Sharjah.
IPA hosted its 125th-anniversary celebrations on the sidelines of the networking event.
Earlier in September, the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, named Accra (Ghana) as UNESCO World Book Capital for 2023 for its strong focus on young people and their potential to contribute to the culture and wealth of Ghana.
Since 2001, the UNESCO World Book Capital’s Advisory Panel, which comprises representatives from the International Authors Forum, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, the International Publishers Association and UNESCO, has been selecting a World Book Capital every year.