An Al Noor Mosque Surrounded with City Buildings at Night
An Al Noor Mosque Surrounded with City Buildings at Night - Al Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates Abid Bin Nazar/

Sultan Sooud Al Qasimi, a member of the Heritage Preservation Committee in the UAE and member of the American University of Sharjah Board of Trustees, shared insights about Sharjah city beyond its physical heritage at the ongoing Thessaloniki International Book Fair (TIBF) 2024.

His comments came during a panel discussion organized by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA). At the event, Al Qasimi discussed his book, "City Identity" and said that he wanted to explore the history of Sharjah because it encapsulates the broader history of the Gulf region.

He further said that many pioneering efforts began in Sharjah, including journalism, municipal infrastructure, establishing the airport, and introducing postal services.

"The completion of this book spanned five years, a process prolonged by the dispersal of early immigrants who carried away their documents, photographs, and records upon their departure," Al Qasimi was quoted as saying by WAM.

"Despite this obstacle, I diligently gathered a wealth of previously unseen photos and documents, now unveiled for the first time within the pages of this book," which has been authored by 17 writers, he added.

Al Qasimi said that his book chronicles 16 iconic building projects in Sharjah, including a cinema featuring a Chinese restaurant, which showcases the city's diverse culture since the 1960s.

Furthermore, the book also consists of a collection of globally sourced photographs, including an image of the Flying Saucer building obtained from an Australian maintenance worker.

"Although not the initial focus, we were determined to capture the building's narrative. To this end, we commissioned a sci-fi writer to craft a fantasy-based story about the Flying Saucer, making us the first to employ this innovative approach in documenting architectural structures," he added.

The panel featured Nikos Vatopoulos, a Professor at the University of Thessaloniki, a transport engineer and the President of Thessaloniki City Council, while it was moderated by Katerina Tsapikidou, Director of the International Relations Service in Thessaloniki, under the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Speaking at the event, Vatopoulos emphasized that this book portrays contemporary literary and urban narratives of Athens, demonstrating Sharjah's rich cultural layers. He went on to highlight strong ties between Sharjah and Greece, encouraging the importance of collaboration.

He concluded by recognizing Thessaloniki as Greece's main city for cinema and discussed the complexities of building the metro network in a city with a rich history.