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UAE’s Sharjah Designated as UNESCO’s World Book Capital for 2019 | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The United Arab Emirates flag flies in front of the Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai December, Reuters

In a ground-breaking achievement for the United Arab Emirates and the Arab world, Sharjah has been honored with the prestigious ‘World Book Capital’ title for 2019 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The honor is a recognition of the Emirate’s pioneering role in supporting and expanding the local and regional publishing industries, promoting reading to become an intrinsic cultural practice, as well as embracing intercultural, knowledge-based dialogue.

An international committee of UNESCO experts reached the decision at a meeting held at the Headquarters of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) at La Haye, in the Netherlands.

The city was selected because of the ‘very innovative, comprehensive and inclusive nature of the application, with a community-focused activity program containing creative proposals to engage the very large migrant population’, a news release read.

Sharjah is the 19th city to become World Book Capital, the UAE state-owned news agency (WAM) reported. It was preceded by Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi (2003), Antwerp (2004), Montreal (2005), Turin (2006), Bogota (2007), Amsterdam (2008), Beirut (2009), Ljubljana (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Yerevan (2012), Bangkok (2013), Port Harcourt (2014), Incheon (2015), Wroclaw (2016), Conakry (2017) and Athens (2018).

Sharjah’s efforts are part of a broaden drive to foster a culture of reading nationwide and in the rest of the Arab world.

Running parallel to this chain of events, Sharjah will also launch Sharjah Publishing City, a space entirely dedicated to publishing and printing.