Sharjah Ruler launches Spanish translations of his books in Madrid

As part of his official trip, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi praised the relationship between the UAE and Spain

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Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, has launched the Spanish translation of several of his books in Madrid.

As part of his official visit to the Spanish capital, Sheikh Dr Sultan attended a reception on Wednesday, October 9, to celebrate his literary works.

Translated from Arabic into Spanish are a number of his key works, including his memoirs, My Early Life: Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi and Taking the Reins.

Both available in English, the former book (first published in Arabic in 2009) begins with Sheikh Dr Sultan’s childhood and concludes at his selection as ruler of Sharjah in 1972 at the age of 33.

The 2011 follow up, Taking the Reins, looks at the events and challenges Sharjah faced - from 1971 to 1977 - during the foundation of the UAE.

A historical relationship: Spain and the UAE

A large contingent of Emirati and Spanish publishing figures attended the launch at the historical opera house, Teatro Real, where Sheikh Dr Sultan gave a stirring address on the cultural relationship between the Arab world and Spain, in addition to the crucial role literature plays in maintaining those links.

While his memoirs have been translated into numerous languages, including French and German, Sheikh Dr Sultan said the opportunity to have them read by a Spanish audience is of particular importance to him.

“Spain is unlike any other country in Europe. It is the closest to us, we have left our names and traces on its valleys and walls and everywhere. We have left our monuments and our influence,” he said.

“We have come to seek your friendship and your love by reviving the past which has established a civilization on this land. This can be seen with great architectural monuments and educational culture that exist to this day and which we are proud of and so are you.”

Sheikh Dr Sultan praised the present and historically strong relationship between both the UAE and Spain.

“It is no longer difficult to introduce ourselves to the other or others introducing themselves to us. I thought that in my quest I was running towards a mirage, but I found that the other is also keen on gaining our friendship and wishes to know us,” he said.

“In the beginning, we developed a cultural exchange with Britain, then with Germany and France, until Italy came along asking for our friendship. Today, Spain not only asks for our friendship, but speaks about it so we rushed towards you [Spain].”

UAE folk group excite Spanish crowds

While the event was invitation only, the Madrid public also had the chance to experience a vibrant slice of Emirati culture.

Outside the Teatro Real, a large selfie-taking crowd gathered around Sharjah’s Department of Culture’s in house folk troupe as they delivered an hour-long performance showcasing the various form of Emirati traditional dance. The show featured numerous indigenous instruments such as the tamboura, a large drum, and the Al Habaan, a leather bagpipe.

Among the many Emiratis spurring the crowd on were actor Habib Ghuloom, academic Hamad Bin Seray and poet Abdullah El Hedeya.

The latter expressed his excitement at being in Spain.

“These trips are very important on a number of levels,” Al Hedeya said. “When I am here I get to met local students and fellow writers and I share the beautiful things about our culture and literature. But you know what? Every time I do this with people we end up coming to the same result, and that all of us have more in common than we think. The world is small and we are all linked to each other.”

That said, Al Hedeya did say there was somethings about Spain that moves him personally.

“I think as poets we look at a city in a different way, or we are looking for a certain feeling than capturing images,” he said. “When I am here, I don’t feel like a stranger. That is probably because the history the Arabs have with Spain. Everything feels familiar to me, from the culture to the people.”

UAE University associate professor Bin Seray said this was his fifth international trip with the Sharjah Book Authority, which often includes him giving lectures discussing UAE history and culture.

Speaking before his Thursday, October 10 presentation in the Madrid’s cultural center, Case Arabe, about ancient Spanish travellers in Arabia, Bin Seray said there is a deep interest abroad on the rapid achievements of the UAE.

“Sharjah is doing very well to reach the people in different places in the world to give them our culture and show them our heritage,” he said. “At the same time we listen to what people and what they think about us and the Arab world.”

The Emirati delegation will remain in Madrid throughout the week as they take will also take part in sessions related to the Liber International Book Fair, in which Sharjah is the guest of honour.

Running from Wednesday, October 9 to Friday, October 11, the fair is a major event in the publishing calendar, bringing together some of the leading publishers and authors from the Spanish language market.