Two-day ‘Sharjah Literary Days' organised by Sharjah Book Authority hosts five panel discussions on Arab and Portuguese literature in Portugal
Portugal, October 06, 2022: At a discussion led by the Arabic Language Academy (ALA) as part of the activities to mark the two-day ‘Sharjah Literary Days' in Coimbra, Portugal, panel members emphasised the role of the Historical Corpus of Arabic Language in strengthening cross-cultural communication amongst nations through its scientific approach in documenting vital information about the history of Arabic lexicon.
At the session titled, ‘Role of the Historical Corpus in cross-cultural dialogue', speakers also highlighted the significance of the project in exploring connections to ancient cultures and languages.
The two-day event was organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) in partnership with the University of Coimbra, the oldest in Portugal and one of the oldest universities in Europe.
Panel members Dr. Mohammed Safi Al Mosteghanemi, Secretary General of ALA, and Abdulafattah Al Hajmari, Director of the Arabisation Coordination Bureau in Rabat, Morocco, emphasised the pioneering role of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, in strengthening cultural cooperation between the emirate and international cultural institutions around the world, including the historic University of Coimbra.
During the session, Al Mosteghanemi said the Corpus reveals similarities between the Arabic language and other prominent global languages, including some languages that have been derived from Arabic and developed over the years.
For his part, Al Hajmari said that the Historical Corpus of Arabic Language is not for Arabs alone but benefits the entire world as influences of the Arabic language has impacted the lexicon of other nations and cultures. He pointed out that Arabic has also borrowed words from other languages. At the same time, he said, words of Arabic origin have taken root in other languages, and have since evolved over the centuries.
During the sessions, Delfim Leão, Vice-Rector for Culture and Open Science at the University of Coimbra, said: “Four years ago, the University of Coimbra awarded His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, with an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his efforts in promoting culture, literature and history, regionally and globally.”
The Vice-Rector added: “What struck us then was that receiving the Honorary Doctorate was not as important to His Highness as was the firm conviction and belief in the importance of continuing cross-cultural communication in various fields. The University planted a palm seed on its campus in honour of His highness's visit, and we are aware of how long it will continue to bear fruits. That said, Sharjah has shown us today and over the past four years, the fruit of its culture and openness, which has exceeded our expectations.”
During the discussions, Professor José Pedro Paiva, Head of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of University of Coimbra, called for the need to teach the Arabic language both at the University of Coimbra and across other universities in Europe. Prof. Paiva cited the status of Arabic as a prominent global language without which the world would not be able to understand the true history of the region and the world, nor learn about an ancient civilisation that shares many historical similarities with the Portuguese and Europeans.
As part of the vibrant programming agenda of ‘Sharjah Literary Days', SBA organised a second panel discussion titled ‘Emirati and Portuguese identities in local novels,' which brought together Ana Maria Machado, and Maryam Al Hashimi. The speakers noted that historical novels are not accurate portrayals of history in the literal sense, and can incorporate figments of the author's imagination. The speakers underlined the responsibility of novelists in this genre to acquaint themselves fully with the past and the present and build up the skills and ability to analyse historical events.
A third session, ‘Arabic translations of Portuguese literature', heard from panel members Ghaith Al Hosani, and Alberto Sismondini, who highlighted the prominence of Portuguese literature in the Arab world and its cultural circles due to the high calibre of its intellects and authors, including José Saramago, celebrated writer and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature.
In the fourth panel session, ‘Identity between the Local and the Global in Theatre Scripts', moderated by Paulo Silva Pereira, speaker Saeed Salim Al Hanki, said that all literary scripts are a reflection of prevalent social values and challenges directly or indirectly experienced by the writers. He noted that searing issues impacting society often find their way into prominent literary works that tend to deeply influence the global cultural and literary movement.
In the fifth session, Emirati poet and author Ibrahim Al Hashemi discussed ‘Folk Beliefs in Portugal and the UAE'. In the session moderated by João Gouveia Monteiro, the Emirati author described the significance of local customs and traditions that embody great values and how these are passed down through the generations.