Sharjah / Emirates Business
The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region had sent two UAE authors to attend the International Literature Festival Berlin (ilb), which concluded recently in the German Capital Berlin.
The move to send the two children’s book authors, Maitha Al Khayyat and Noora Al Khouri, to participate in the event was in alignment with the UAEBBY and Goethe-Institut’s efforts to promote reading and to encourage children to adopt it as a habit that enriches their knowledge and develops their imagination.
In cooperation with the German Arab Friendship Association (DAFG), who organised the authors’ stay in the German capital as a partner of UAEBBY and the Goethe-Institut, the children’s programme of the International Literature Festival Berlin offered to give a platform to UAE children’s and young adult literature within the framework of a “Special Focus”. The focus was designed to draw attention to the creative potential and cultural richness of the UAE and to highlight the impressive achievement and the significant creative potential of Emirati children’s book authors and illustrators.
At the festival, Maitha Al Khayyat and Noora Al Khouri held a well-attended reading session in front of 150 school children and participated in a discussion panel where they shed light on the ‘Books – Made in UAE’ project.
The “Special Focus” on Children’s Books in the UAE not only presented a positive example of UAE creativity, but also offered an opportunity for both adults and children to learn more about the Arab world and the Arabic language in an entertaining and constructive context. Therefore, the two authors conducted reading sessions at a district library in Tempelhof-Schoeneberg for Arab-speaking school children in so called “Welcome Classes”, at the Refugee Centre Friedenau and at the Asylothek, a library for refugees and Germans in the huge Refugee Centre in the former Tempelhof airport.
Joining the authors in Berlin were Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY Executive Board, and Eman Mohammed, Programs and Award Executive at the UAEBBY. Commenting on the UAEBBY’s participation in the event, Marwa Al Aqroubi said: “The UAE has a long-term strategy to handle different humanitarian issues, especially those that have occurred recently and have affected the lives of millions of people, in particular the issue of displaced Arab people.”
She added: “We, at the UAEBBY, believe in the importance of reading in shaping children’s intellectual and cultural identity. Our choice of reading Arabic books for children refugees in Germany came up from our dedication to inspire them about their identity and origins, and to keep them inspired with hopes to pursue success that is built on their Arab identity. We believe that books help in inspiring young minds to something that is more than just intellectualism or knowledge, but it also plays a key role in sustaining a peaceful spirit and an innocent hope in their lives, especially stories that are told through their mother tongue.”
Dr. Gabriele Landwehr, General Manager of the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, said; “In partnership with the UAEBBY, we are delighted to have presented authors Maitha Al Khayyat, and Noora Al Khouri at the International Literature Festival Berlin where they introduced the Emirati efforts to promote a culture of reading among children and young people. Throughout their reading sessions, they were able to provide youngsters with simple yet engaging stories in Arabic.”
Al Aqroubi also thanked DAFG for its efforts that played a key role in the German-Emirati cultural exchange. She praised their commitment that enabled the UAE to present children’s and young adult literature from the UAE to a German audience, in the process showcasing the creative skills of Emirati authors and illustrators.