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Abu Dhabi takes 'Arab stand' at London Book Fair
2009-04-23 01:16:24

Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage shows high enthusiasm at London Book Fair 2009.

The Nation Press -

By Mamoon Alabbasi - LONDON

Abu Dhabi marked a notable presence compared to mainly low key or absent Arab counterparts at the London Book Fair 2009, held on 20th-22nd April.

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) presented its various projects at separate stands, showing much enthusiasm for their participation at the Fair.

Arab participation was significantly less, whether in terms of the number of independent publishers or states taking part, than in 2008 where the Arab World was the guest of honour at the Fair.

This year's guest of honour is India, but ADACH sought to share part of its limelight by participating in a seminar entitled the 'Indo-Arab Cultural Relations.'

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award, an ADACH initiative, is taking part in the seminar that aims to 'tackle the India-Arab literary dialogue and contemporary intellectual interventions in India in relation to the Arab World.'

"This type of cooperation is part of our aim in participating in the London Book Fair", said Dr. Ali Al Noaimi, member of Sheikh Zayed Book Award advisory council.

"But we are also here to open more horizons for creative Arab writers living outside the Arab Word," he said, noting that around 5% of submissions for the Award's third session came from Arabs living abroad.

"Many had approached our stand to ask about the conditions that must be met to participate in the Award," Noaimi said.

One key reoccurring theme for the UAE in this year's and last year's Fair was translation.

Kalmia, an ADACH project that seeks to translate at least 100 books every year from world languages into Arabic, was the main focus of theme.

In selecting candidate books for translation, "Kalima relies on a team of advisors who consult with experts in various publishing fields", explained Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, the Project Manager of the initiative.
"Other choices are made by respectable international translation institutions, which Kalima will later publish, Tamim said.

"On occasion, Kalima will support renowned translators finish their works because we trust their judgment on the importance of the books being translated," he added.

But Kalima also receives suggestions for translation from big publishing houses.

"We are here to discuss work with authors, publishers and generally see what are the new type of book movements in the world," said Tamim.

"The selection criteria are very much based on the impact of a book...Today we are witnessing a rise in themes that were marginalised. For example, minority or Afro-American literature can no longer be ignored today."

ADACH also used its participation at the London Book Fair to promote its own book fair in Abu Dhabi.

"We are promoting the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF), which made a big jump," said Claudia Kaiser, General Manager of Kitab, a joint venture between ADACH and the Frankfort Book Fair, and is the organiser ADIBF.

"We're talking to publishers here to visit our next Fair in 2010... We seek to transform Abu Dhabi into a cultural and publishing hub in the Arab Word," she explained.

"Things now are at a different level; we're no longer saying 'would you like to visit us?', but instead we ask 'are you coming back?' We are also here to create more awareness of what is happening in Abu Dhabi," she added.

Her view is shared by Dr. Wisam Al Hariri, Operational Manager at Kitab, who noted a significant interest by visitors in culture-related events in Abu Dhabi.

"We were asked by people who had visited or are intending to visit Abu Dhabi about the latest events, projects, or museums there," said Hariri.

"Many showed interest in knowing what is going on in Abu Dhabi...Definitely much more interest than in 2007, for example," he added.

The Poetry Academy, another ADACH initiative, was present at the Fair, seeking to attract poets or fans of Arabic verse.

"Our presence is directed at lovers of Arab poetry in London, but we also seek to find opportunities where publishers might be interested in the translation of our works into other languages from Arabic," said Dr. Ghassan Al Hasan, Advisor to the Poetry Academy.

"We are also cooperating with university departments in Britain concerned with Arabic poetry, and inviting people to attend poetry events that we host in Abu Dhabi," he added.

Sultan Al Amimi, Manager of the Poetry Academy, noted that many of those who approached their stand at the Fair were interested in the displayed poetry publications, and some even wished to publish their works at the Academy.

Other participants from the UAE at the Fair include the Emirates Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Community Development.

"Our stand at the Fair represents the UAE Ministry of Culture, in addition other institutions in the Emirates that were not present this with their own stand this year," said Sumeya Al Ali, representative from the Ministry.

"Many visitors approached us wanting a list of the publishing companies in the UAE," she said.

"But many others were also interested in seeing our publication, both in Arabic and in English," she added.

"There seems to be a lot of interest in the UAE!"

Source : Thenation press servecis
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