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'Narratives Of The Place': Captivating Scenes Showcase Legacy Of Sharjah’s Cultural Achievements

Immersive theatrical show vividly portrays Sharjah’s impressive strides in culture and arts over the past 50 years

26 January
2022, Wednesday

Sharjah’s meaningful legacy that has enriched lives and accelerated progress of generations through the power of books and knowledge echoed through the stunning scenes and elaborate settings of 'Narratives of the Place' (Sard Al Makan).

Organised by Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), the show blends the vibrant energy of a range of performing arts expressions with state-of-the-art audio-visual technologies to vividly portray the role of knowledge and literature in shaping Sharjah’s epic journey of growth since the accession of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.<

The show that continues its run at Al Majaz Amphitheatre on January 28 and 29, features 11 symbolic scenes that narrate and paint the intriguing story of a ruler who pledged a golden dagger, as a 12-year-old boy to buy books, and captures details of the impressive strides in culture and arts in the emirate under his 50-year leadership.

The breathtaking choreography combined with exquisite music and poetry elevate each scene, one of which includes the inspiring words of HH Ruler of Sharjah spoken during the opening ceremony of Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 celebrations: “We worked sincerely for many years to cultivate a relationship in Sharjah between books and knowledge. As I stand here before you… I see our grandfathers’ grandfathers who were scientists and intellectuals working hard to fill libraries with the knowledge of humanities and sciences and light the way for mankind to progress … and leave us with the legacy that we are proud of today.

It is time to stop the 'concrete' revolution of civil construction in the country and replace it with a 'cultural revolution' instead," he had said, while announcing the cultural and development vision for the emirate at a theatrical event on April 18,1979. 'Narratives of the Place' eloquently showcases this vision through a timeline of milestones marking the development of the emirate over the past 50 years.

Instilling the values of culture and efforts to conserve cultural heritage, promote artistic talents and engage in cross-cultural collaborations were realised through the establishment of several cultural institutions in Sharjah.  The date, April 30, 1981, marked the setting up of the Department of Culture and Information which has since paved the way for the formation of the Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah Book Authority, Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone, Sharjah Sports Council, Sharjah Institute for Heritage, Sharjah Government Media Bureau, and many more.

Vibrant art and cultural events

The Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), which celebrated its milestone 40th edition last year as the largest book fair in the world in terms of buying and selling of copyrights, began its extraordinary journey on January 18, 1982. The same day, the Sharjah Ruler also opened ‘The Fine Art Gallery’, that exhibited the works of artists from the Emirates Fine Arts Society

On March 1, 1984, he inaugurated the National Arts Festival, featuring art exhibitions, seminars, and workshops. On March 20, the inaugural edition of Sharjah Theatre Days came into being, inspiring the launch of a wide range of festivals dedicated to performing art genres. These included, amongst others, the Sharjah GCC Theatre Festival, Sharjah Desert Theatre Festival, and Sharjah School Theatre Festival.

On February 9, 1985, while inaugurating the debut edition of festival for the child, the Ruler of Sharjah said: “Children are our future leaders; investing in their potential should be a top priority for any community that has set its sights on the future.

April 14, 1993, saw the launch of the Sharjah Biennial which, today, under the umbrella of the Sharjah Arts Foundation has emerged as an international platform for exhibition and experimentation for artists from the region and beyond. On October 12, 2016, the world’s best photographers stepped into Sharjah and opened a window into the wider world with the inauguration of the Xposure International Photography Festival, a leading photography festival and educational platform with an expansive programming agenda of exhibitions, seminars, workshops, and more.

Institutions that nurture arts and culture

Sharjah Cultural Centre was created to cater to the needs of children to learn reading and writing in a nurturing cultural setting and served as the stepping-stone for the emirate’s unique distinction as the first city in the Middle East to receive the prestigious title of ‘Child Friendly City’.

Sharjah Art Museum, a cultural beacon, opened its doors on April 13, 1995, becoming the first purpose-built art museum in the Gulf region, and on April 9, 1997, three main landmarks of the emirate’s Arts Area were opened: the Sharjah Art Institute, the Sharjah Art Gallery, and the new headquarters of the Sharjah Art Museum.

The Sharjah Ruler inaugurated Sharjah Institute for Heritage on December 20, 2014, to promote the Emirati identity, document the Arab cultural heritage, and preserve it from extinction

His Highness Sheikh Dr ’s deep reverence for books and lifelong love of learning led to the establishment of the Sharjah Book Authority in 2014, which has since made its mark globally as the driving force behind the success of the SIBF and Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF). He also officially inaugurated the Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone, the first-of-its-kind in the world.

Through an Emiri Decree in 2016, HH Ruler of Sharjah founded the Arabic Language Academy, to build bridges through cultural dialogue and support linguistic and lexical research. On December 9, 2020, a new iconic cultural hub came into existence when he inaugurated the House of Wisdom, a futuristic library and cultural centre and a source of knowledge in all formats.

Advancing education

Sterling efforts to develop the education sector led to the opening of the American University of Sharjah on February 9, 1998. During the inauguration, HH Ruler of Sharjah said: "We look forward to the beginning of a new and distinguished era in the university education in the emirate of Sharjah, in the UAE and in the entire Arabian Gulf region.

A year later, on March 14, 1999, the University of Sharjah, came into being, and the Sharjah Ruler said: “Today, we are inaugurating a lofty edifice of knowledge as we advance towards a new century. This leading centre of scientific and intellectual creativity will secure for us a future worthy of the glories of our past and the achievements of our present.

On April 26, 2015, he inaugurated Al Qasimia University, which today offers full scholarships to students from around the world, in addition to focusing on Arab and Islamic sciences.

As ‘Narratives of the Place’ leads viewers on Sharjah’s cultural journey, it weaves the past with the present, and highlights the emirate’s commendable stature at the global level. The golden dagger pledged by the Sharjah Ruler decades ago has thus served its purpose and transformed the emirate into a beacon of knowledge and as a destination for all those yearning to quench their thirst for science, culture, and literature.

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