The Sheikh Zayed Book Award joined an assembly of renowned cultural and literary figures in a seminar entitled “Children’s Literature: Shaping the Future” as part of its participation in Cairo International Book Fair On Sunday. The Speakers included Professor Salah Fadl, member of the Advisory Committee of the Award and Seminar moderator, Mrs. Huda Al Shawwa Qadoumi, winner novelist in the Children’s Literature Category of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for 2008, and Professor Mohammad Ali Ahmad, winner in the Children’s Literature Category of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for 2008. The seminar was preceded by a press briefing during which Mr. Rashed Al Oraimi, Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, briefed the audience about the Award and its work; he also went over the seminar agenda and presented the discussion panel.
Al Oraimi pointed out in his introductory speech at the Seminar the distinguished role Egypt plays in the Arab Cultural and Literary landscape. He also highlighted the final statistics and indicators of the Award’s 3rd session for 2009 which further reflected on Egypt’s cultural presence in the region being the leader with more than a 100 nominations making up 39% of the total 263 accepted nominations for this year’s session. Al Oraimi commented that this is a glaring proof of the cultural and literary fortune Egypt enjoys. He added: “the significance of the Seminar topic emerged from our belief at Sheikh Zayed Book Award that the revival of the Arabic literature and culture relies considerably on encouraging reading among Arab children and youth.”
The seminar discussed three main streams. Professor Salah Fadl started with the first stream by introducing Children’ Literature in Arab World. He moreover highlighted the Award’s growing role on the international cultural and literary scene and elaborated that the Award has developed into one of the world’s most prestigious and well-funded prizes since its inception in 2006.
Mrs. Huda Al Shwwa Qadoumi continued with the seminar second stream. She discussed her book “The birds’ journey to the Qaf Mountain” which earned her the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in the Children’s Literature Category for 2008. The book tells a story of the Phoenix –the legendary fictional bird- which inspired many philosophers and poets for decades. Mrs. Al Shwwa Qadoumi explained that the story is inspired by the poem entitled “the sense of the bird” – a treasured legacy of the Islamic Farsi Culture written by Fareed Al Deen Al Attar who lived in the 12th Century. As for the artistic illustrations incorporated in the book, the novelist elaborated that they were inspired by the Islamic Art of Ceramics to replicate the atmosphere of that era.
Professor Mohammad Ali Ahmad wrapped up the seminar with his third stream, discussing the scientific writing for children and its significance. He explained that the media serving science is very limited compared to that serving entertainment in the Arab World. Professor Ali Ahmad elaborated: “the scientific publications in the region are very inadequate and the size of dedicated sections for science in printed media is modest. This, in turn, directly reflects on what the Arab children read. What an Arab Child reads is equivalent to not more than one phrase in each book a European Child reads.” He also emphasized the role of the scientists and scholars in the scientific writing for children. “Writing to children should incorporate simplified sciences, future outlook and science fiction to attract the attention of children and enrich their imagination in addition to growing their creativity.”
The seminar witnessed a significant audience highlighted by the attendance of the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Cairo Mohammed Al Zaghaby.