Sharjah 24: A rare collection of centuries-old royal manuscripts, maps and other historical volumes are travelling out of Spain’s prestigious El Escorial Library for the first time to arrive at the region’s cultural capital, Sharjah, for a first-of-its-kind exhibition from April 2 - 9.
The product of a partnership between Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and the Spanish Historical Heritage Institute designed for knowledge exchange and dissemination, the exhibition is being organised with the authorisation of the Royal Palace.
The event presents an unprecedented opportunity to students, researchers, academia, cartographers, and collectors of rare books, as well as history and language enthusiasts, to access 14 rare manuscripts dating back to the 13, 14,15, and 16th centuries. The oldest of them is Al Bakri’s Roads and Kingdoms, which dates from the 13th century. The authority’s latest initiative testifies to SBA’s continued efforts to promote knowledge and culture by bringing the world's most prestigious literary treasures to Sharjah.
The collection spans diverse fields of science and knowledge, including philosophy, history, geography, and astronomy, in Arabic, showcased outside the El Escorial Library for the first time in its history.
His Excellency Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, noted: “This exhibition is an unprecedented cultural accomplishment for the UAE, and a fruit of the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. Through this event, SBA aims to continue fostering our partnerships with like-minded institutions worldwide to stimulate dialogue and communication with European and global counterparts and also advance the Arab cultural movement”.
“The exhibition presents an unparalleled opportunity for researchers and enthusiasts of knowledge and history to closely observe and appreciate these invaluable works, which are considered Spain’s best Arabic manuscript collection. We thank our friends at the El Escorial Library for embracing Sharjah’s cultural vision and for partnering with the SBA to organise this first-ever showcase that will turn the spotlight on humankind’s collective culture and knowledge heritage, which have been treasured and safeguarded for centuries for successive generations to benefit from,” he added.
José Luis del Valle Merino, Director of the Royal Library of El Escorial, expressed his delight at the close relationship between the library and the SBA over several years. “I attended the Sharjah International Book Fair twice, where I realised the book fair’s status as the most important of its kind in the region. My knowledge and experience of Sharjah and its status has helped support the loan of a selected collection of Arabic manuscripts from the Escorial collection, considered the best Arabic manuscript collections in Spain to be displayed in Sharjah.”
He added: “On the other hand, the memory of the Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi’s visit to the El Escorial Library in 2019 during the participation of Sharjah as a guest of honor in Liber international book fair in Madrid, is still vivid in our minds. These visits assert the strong cultural ties that bind the Royal Library of El Escorial to the Emirate of Sharjah.”
Among the most important manuscripts, documents and books that the exhibition makes available to visitors is a manuscript entitled “Diwan of Ibn Al Khayat”, “Al Jawaher Al Magmo’a wa Al Nawader Al Masmo’a”, the book “E’rab Al Quran”, the manuscript book of “Al-Majmoo’ al-Faaiq min Hadith Khatam Rasul al-Khaliq” and the book “Anatomy of the Law”. And the Diwan of Shams al-Din al-Hanafi.
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