Home » ‘Exploring Sharjah’s heritage at the Thessaloniki International Book Fair’

‘Exploring Sharjah’s heritage at the Thessaloniki International Book Fair’

by Dubaiforum

Dr. Sultan Sooud Al Qasimi, a prominent member of the Heritage Preservation Committee in the UAE and the Board of Trustees of the American University of Sharjah, recently highlighted the importance of a city’s identity beyond just its physical landmarks and historical sites. Speaking at a panel discussion titled “City Identity” at the Thessaloniki International Book Fair 2024, organized by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), Dr. Al Qasimi emphasized that a city’s true identity is deeply rooted in the collective memory and cultural legacy of its residents.

During the panel discussion, Dr. Al Qasimi shared insights from his book “City Identity,” which delves into the history of Sharjah and its significance in the broader Gulf region. He spoke about the pioneering efforts that took place in Sharjah, from journalism to infrastructure development, showcasing the city’s rich cultural diversity since the 1960s.

The book, a collaborative effort by 17 writers, documents 16 iconic building projects in Sharjah, including a cinema with an integrated Chinese restaurant, highlighting the city’s unique architectural landscape. Dr. Al Qasimi also revealed previously unseen photos and documents within the pages of the book, shedding light on the city’s history and evolution.

In addition, Dr. Al Qasimi showcased architectural wonders such as the Sharjah Post Office, designed by the Lebanese company Dar Al-Handasah, and highlighted the contributions of Greek architect Alexandros Tombazis and the Greek company “Archadion” in the development of the port of Sharjah, emphasizing the strong ties between Sharjah and Greece.

Nikos Vatopoulos, author of Walking in Athens, also participated in the panel discussion, discussing the contemporary literary and urban narratives of Athens. He called for closer collaboration between Sharjah and Thessaloniki, recognizing Sharjah as a leader in fostering relations with Greece in various domains such as architecture, art, literature, and culture.

Both speakers emphasized the importance of exploring and preserving cultural identities, showcasing the complexity and richness of cities like Sharjah and Thessaloniki. Vatopoulos highlighted Thessaloniki’s cultural journey post-liberation from Ottoman rule, while also acknowledging the city’s cinematic heritage and challenges in developing its metro network amidst its diverse urban heritage.

Overall, the panel discussion shed light on the profound connection between a city’s identity, its history, and the shared human experiences that shape its culture and legacy. Dr. Al Qasimi and Vatopoulos’s insights underscored the significance of collaboration and mutual understanding in celebrating and preserving the unique identities of cities around the world.

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