Sharjah Ruler opens House of Wisdom, a futuristic cultural hub. File photo
On the sidelines of House of Wisdom (HoW)’s recent participation in the International Children’s and Youth Book Fair in Casablanca, Morocco, Marwa Al Aqroubi, Executive Director of HoW, visited the Islamic World Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ICESCO).
She discussed potential collaborations between the two entities, both sharing a common interest in culture and knowledge. The discussion included the exploration of hosting a series of exhibitions and workshops at HoW.
Established in 1982, ICESCO aims to foster cooperation among its 54 member states in education, science, culture and communication. It promotes diversity and understanding globally to achieve peace and security. ICESCO’s headquarters is in Rabat, Morocco, with a regional headquarters in Sharjah, UAE, recognising the emirate’s pivotal role in promoting Arabic and Islamic culture and facilitating cross-cultural communication.
Dr. Abdelilah Benarfa, Deputy Director-General of ICESCO, welcomed the HoW delegation in the presence of Mohammed Zine El Abidine, Director of the Culture and Communication Sector at ICESCO. He emphasised the importance of enhancing cooperation in the Arabic language field and other cultural domains. Dr. Benarfa underscored ICESCO’s commitment to strengthening collaborative relations with cultural entities across member states.
Accompanied by Dr. Abdelilah Benarfa, HoW’s delegates toured the IExhibition of the International Fair and Museum of the Prophet's Biography and Islamic Civilisation at ICESCO’s headquarters. They explored the museum’s sections, showcasing rare antiques and manuscripts, including paper and digital Quran manuscripts, models of the Prophet’s pulpit, chamber, and armour from the Battle of Uhud, as well as models of the holy Kaaba and Mecca during the prophet’s time.
Expressing gratitude for the visit, Al Aqroubi acknowledged ICESCO's choice of Sharjah for establishing its regional headquarters; a firm acknowledgement of the emirate’s notable cultural project shaped by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. She also underlined the shared interests of ICESCO and HoW, particularly in culture, knowledge, the arts, and other fields that enhance human communication and foster friendship.
During her visit to Fes, Morocco, Al Aqroubi explored Khizanat Al Qarawiyyin (Library of Al Qarawiyyin Mosque). Established in the ninth Hijri century, it features thousands of rare manuscripts. The HoW official toured the library, which was the first university in the world, and visited the book restoration department, a professional centre dedicated to preserving rare books and manuscripts.
Al Aqroubi discussed the pivotal role of such libraries in educating and empowering successive generations of students, researchers, academics and the general populace. She praised Al Qarawiyyin University’s meticulous archiving and maintenance of the knowledge and science that has been produced in the Arab Maghreb and the Islamic world for over seven centuries.
Discussions with the librarians included the possibility of hosting original or replica manuscripts from Khizanat Al Qarawiyyin at HoW, and digitising some of them for HoW’s online library to improve user accessibility. Joint organisation of professional training workshops in Sharjah that will teach the restoration of rare books and manuscripts, was also explored by the two parties.
Khizanat Al Qarawiyyin houses a unique selection of rare manuscripts, including ‘The Medical Arjoza’ by philosopher and physician Ibn Tufail, and ‘The Book of Ibar’ (The Book of Lessons), a sequel to Ibn Khaldoun’s renowned ‘The Muqaddimah.’ In 2011, the latter was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World International Register.
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