Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 November 2019

Sharjah Ruler receives honorary doctorate from a Madrid university

Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi’s visited a range of cultural institutions during his three-day trip to Madrid

Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi has received an honorary doctorate from a Madrid university.

During his official visit to the Spanish capital this week, the Sharjah Ruler was honoured by the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Autonomous University of Madrid) for his cultural achievements.

Sheikh Dr Sultan attended the ceremony, on Thursday, October 10, and delivered an acceptance speech illustrating the bonds between Sharjah and the university.

The institution has been working with Sharjah authorities on a range of archaeological missions across the emirate since 1996. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the partnership, a 2016 exhibition was held at Madrid's National Archaeological Museum to showcase some of the gems unearthed.

In his speech, Sheikh Dr Sultan pointed to a major 2002 discovery by the joint mission to confirm Sharjah’s historical significance.

“They found an ancient underground canal irrigation system designed using a sophisticated technique of the Iron Age. Researchers believe that the unearthed system is the oldest discovered so far,” he said.

“This system in conjunction with camel domestication completely revolutionised the transportation of goods in the region; and helped inhabitants adapt better to the harsh desert environment. The mission discovered evidence of a clay brick processing plant, which was used to build permanent residences in the farming communities of the region.”

As part of the ceremony, Sheikh Dr Sultan was presented with a Cowl, the university’s symbol of knowledge, a ring to highlight the bond shared with the university’s fellow academics and white gloves which represent "scientific status, integrity and dignity".

The ceremony capped off Sheikh Dr Sultan’s three-day visit to Madrid, where he spent time at a range of cultural institutions.

Following the university ceremony, he paid a visit to the El Escorial Library. Once the historical residence of the King of Spain, the library is home to a collection of over 45,000 items including rare books, maps, manuscripts, sculptors and drawings.

Sheikh Dr Sultan inspected a range of historic manuscripts at El Escorial Library. Courtesy: Sharjah Media Office
Sheikh Dr Sultan inspected a range of historic manuscripts at El Escorial Library. Courtesy: Sharjah Media Office

Of particular interest to Sheikh Dr Sultan were the volumes of manuscripts by a range of Arab scholars, such as 14th century thinkers Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Al Wardi and 12th century historian Mohammed bin Dhafer.

The library visit came on the back of the launch of Spanish translations of Sheikh Dr Sultan’s numerous literary work at the historical opera house, Teatro Real, on October 9.

Translated from Arabic into Spanish, and now available in book stores, 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.

On October 8, Sheikh Dr Sultan began his visit to Madrid by leading a delegation from the UAE’s literary scene, including authors, poets and publishers, to the Liber International Book Fair where he officially opened the Sharjah pavilion.

Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, paid visit the Liber International Book Fair in Madrid, Spain. Courtesy Sharjah Media Office.
Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, paid visit the Liber International Book Fair in Madrid, Spain. Courtesy Sharjah Media Office.

With the emirate designated as this year’s guest of honour at the event, the Sharjah Book Authority set up a grand wing in the heart of the book fair’s grounds that houses nearly a dozen literary UAE organisations.

The day also included a visit to Casa Arabe. Opened in 2006 and headquartered in the Spanish capital, the cultural centre – home to exhibition spaces, Arabic language classes and a mosque – is viewed as playing a central role in Spain’s cultural relationship with the Arab world.

Sheikh Dr Sultan witnessed the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and Casa Arabe to promote Emirati and wider Arab cultures in Spain. Under the agreement, both bodies will plan and execute various initiatives run by arts and cultural bodies from Sharjah and Spain.

Updated: October 12, 2019 10:39 AM

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