SHARJAH, 18th September, 2023 (WAM) – H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the 23rd Sharjah International Narrator Forum (SINF) today, which is themed “Tales of Plants “. The event is held at the Expo Centre Sharjah from September 18th to 20th. The three-day festival has garnered participation from more than 47 countries, with the State of Qatar serving as guest of honour for the session.
H.H. was warmly welcomed by dignitaries, including Sheikh Majid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Head of the Department of Suburbs and Villages Affairs, Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Owais, Chairman of the Department of Culture, Matar bin Ahmed Al Naqbi, Chairman of the Sharjah Fish Resources Authority, and Dr Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Chairperson of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage and the Supreme Committee of the SINF, Aisha Al Hussan Al Shamsi, Director of the Arabian Heritage Centre of the SIH, and general coordinator of the (SINF), along with several senior officials, intellectuals, narrators, and other esteemed guests.
The opening ceremony commenced with a visual presentation that embodied the idea of the forum’s current theme, which revolves around the connection between plants and stories. Dr Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Chairperson of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage, then presented an overview of the current year’s session, addressing the importance of plants and trees, particularly in the lives of Arabs since ancient times. He highlighted that these natural elements were important as they were integral to Arab livelihoods, symbolising blessings, prosperity, and well-being.
Al Musallam emphasised the role of plants and their role in the lives of Emiratis, saying: “Plants and trees have always held great significance for the people of the UAE, both in the past and present. They are integral to the UAE environment, bearing witness to the nation’s civilisation and nobility. These natural elements offer valuable insights into the customs, traditions, and popular heritage of the UAE. It is crucial to preserve, document, and highlight this aspect for future generations, precisely what this session of the Sharjah International Narrator Forum aims to achieve.”
Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi honoured Ali Shabib Khalaf Salem Al Mannai from the State of Qatar, winner of the Honorary Personality Award, and Muhammad Saeed Muhammad Hamad Al Balushi, and Khawla Muhammad Abdul Aziz Al Mannai from the State of Qatar, winners of the Legal Personality Award. The Living Human Personality Award went to Ali Faris Ali Al Ketbi, Khamis Salem Mohammed Salem Al Naqbi, Mohammed Rashid Subeih Al-Badawi and Moza Ali Al Dahmani. His Highness also honoured the winners of the Sharjah International Award for Cultural Heritage in its third and fourth sessions, along with judges and narrators.
Before the opening ceremony, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi toured various parts of the forum. He received detailed explanations about the forum’s history, significance, and progress over its 23-year journey.
During his tour, H.H. gained insights into the pavilions participating in the SINF, which include spaces for book signings and publication launches, the International School of Storytelling Pavilion, Story Spaces Pavilion, Awaid Al Hanna Pavilion, the Secret Garden, and more. These pavilions also feature government agency representations, such as the Environment and Protected Areas Authority, Sharjah Museums Authority, Al Hamriya Municipality, Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, Emirates Heritage Club, Dubai Municipality, Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre, The Health Education Department of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, and others.
This year’s forum boasts a diverse programme featuring over 120 experts, researchers, and storytellers hailing from more than 47 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, Mauritania, Tunisia, Algeria, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands, China, Kenya, Germany, Italy, and more. The forum stands out for its intellectually enriching program, cultural heritage campaign, cultural café, and exploration of plant stories—a multifaceted approach dedicated to uncovering the treasures of heritage and its rich contents. It also discusses scientifically pertinent topics closely tied to plant stories within the UAE, the Arabian Gulf, and the Arab world.