Workshop: Silent Books – Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) With UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY)

Launched in Italy (2013), Sweden (2015) and the UAE (2017), Silent Books is a project to produce stories that rely on images rather than text. The main mission of the project is to create and share wordless books that tell a story, express emotion and encourage readers to have their own interpretations and imaginative journeys. In this workshop, participants will create their own silent books using mainly collage, illustration and a lot of imagination. The finished books will be contributed to Sharjah Art Foundation’s Ramadan Charity Campaign to help expand children’s libraries.

The UAE Makes a Debut in Silent Books Publishing with the UAEBBY

The UAE has just achieved a new literary milestone by bringing out its first three home grown silent books. Supported by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), the three Emirati wordless picture books elevate the UAE’s international stature as a hub of literary innovation and appeal, especially in the children’s books industry.

The three titles include ‘Night and Day’ written by Emirati writer and illustrator Alia Al Shamsi, and published by Al Hudhud Publishing and Distribution; and ‘Fly’ written and illustrated by Alia Al Badi, and published by Al Fulk Translation and Publishing. In addition to ‘Oh! Its Becoming Bigger’, written and illustrated by Aisha Al Badi and published by Al Fulk Translation and Publishing.

The three books signal the fruition of a series of training workshops the UAEBBY hosted as part of the UAE’s first-ever Silent Book Exhibition it held last year, which saw the participation of numerous Emirati and Arab authors and illustrators interested to create original material in the genre of wordless picture books, which was an uncharted literary territory in the UAE until now.

The UAEBBY’s support to these books is in line with its commitment to develop the capabilities of illustrators and writers of children’s literature in the UAE, and encourage them to enrich their knowledge and experience in the field by motivating them to explore story ideas that resonate with children’s imaginations regardless of their language or reading abilities.

Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY, said: “We are happy to have facilitated the release of the first Emirati silent books, which are such a powerful medium of communication with children, no matter their age, background or literacy levels. The images in these books spark children’s imaginations and are open to their unique interpretation. We hope this initiative will motivate several other Emirati writers and illustrators to give these kinds of books with unrivalled human and social dimensions a try, and through their work, they will help build bridges between diverse civilisations and cultures.”

The Silent Books project started out as an initiative by the International Board on Books for young People (IBBY), themed ‘Silent Books, from the world to Lampedusa and back,’ in 2012 in Lampedusa, the largest Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea and the prime gateway for African and Middle Eastern refugees making their way into Europe. The initiative was aimed at providing refugee children on the island with a collection of wordless picture books to flip through, interact with and enjoy, irrespective of their mother tongue.

The UAEBBY has organised several workshops to support and encourage Emirati illustrators to produce high-quality silent books. The recently concluded 7th edition of Books – Made in UAE, a cultural initiative organised in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region in and sponsored by Knowledge without Borders, brought together 13 Emirati and UAE-based illustrators and artists to learn more about how they can create their own silent books.

These efforts align with UAEBBY’s vision and belief in the importance of wordless picture books in bringing world’s people closer together, conveying humanistic values to the cultures of the world, and spreading the messages of love and peace.

UAEBBY is the national branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Operating in more than 77 countries, IBBY is the main board based in Switzerland and founded in 1953. The organisation is an international network of institutions and individuals from around the world who are committed to promoting and encouraging the culture of reading and bringing children and books together.

10th Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature Opens Door for Submissions

Building on the success of ten years celebrating books for children and young people, the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People UAEBBY and sponsored by Etisalat Group, has announced it is now accepting submissions for the 2018 edition by international authors, publishers, illustrators and interactive application developers for books written in Arabic.

Contestants have until the end of August to submit their applications under its six categories, with prize money amounting to AED 1.2 million to be presented to the winners at the opening ceremony of the 37th edition of Sharjah International Book Fair on 31 October 2018.

All Arabic and international publishing houses can enter the competition provided that the book is written in Arabic, is not translated or quoted. It must target children and young people up to 18 years old and should be published by a registered publishing house or institution and not individually issued. It should also be printed and published in hard copy and not have previously won any local, Arab or international award.

Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY, said: “The Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature has motivated authors, illustrators and publishers to offer premium books for children and has succeeded in encouraging youngsters to read more for a decade.

“The 10th edition of the award aims to attract more creative minds to join us in our quest to improve the level of the children’s book industry by offering more books written in Arabic for young people. We are also looking to motivate app developers and designers to focus more on children by offering reading and entertainment tools designed especially for them.”

To apply and for more information about the terms and conditions for all categories, please visit the website

The phrase ‘Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature’ should appear on the envelope containing the entries, all envelopes should be sent to the following address:
Al Qasba – Block D – First Floor – Office 45
P.O. Box: 1421 – Sharjah – United Arab Emirates
Tel +971 6 5542111
Fax +971 6 5542345
Mobile: + 971 56 1187888

The Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature features six categories: Children’s Book of the Year, worth AED 300,000, to be distributed equally between the publisher, author and illustrator; Young Adult Book of the Year, worth AED 200,000, to be distributed equally between the author and publisher; Best Text; Best Illustration; Best Production; and Digital Book App of the Year, which are each worth AED 100,000. As part of the Award’s ‘Warsha’ programme, an additional AED 300,000 will be dedicated to workshops for nurturing young Arabs’ ability to write and illustrate children’s books.

The Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature was launched in 2009 as an initiative by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of the UAEBBY. Sponsored by Etisalat Group, it aims to raise the overall quality of Arabic literature by introducing a high value award recognising outstanding contributions in the field.
Over the past 10 years, the award has supported the Arabic children’s book industry around the world by positioning the industry as a pivotal contributor to community culture and demonstrated that books continue to be a principal product amid the diverse electronic alternatives available today. The award has also driven Arabic language children’s publishers, writers and illustrators around the world towards best practices and increased innovation.

Books – Made in UAE Guides UAE Artists to Develop their Own Silent Book Ideas

13 Emirati and UAE-based artists embarked on an exciting creative journey to learn more about the technical and emotional aspects of illustrations in silent books for children, as part of their participation at the seventh edition of ‘Books – Made in UAE’ – an annual cultural collaboration between the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and Goethe-Institut Gulf Region.

The four-day workshop was recently held at 1971 Design Space at Sharjah’s Flag Island, where participants were invited to think up stories connected with a personal life experience, exchange ideas, and learn how to illustrate in a convincing way for children.

As the workshop conductor, multi-award winning German illustrator Katrin Stangl assisted participants to work on the visualisation of their story, their personal drawing style and techniques, to finally enable each artist to complete their storyline and bring the first few scenes to life on two double-pages in full colour.

Speaking about her experience at the workshop, Stangl said: “Storytelling is a historical traditional pastime, and the inherent narrative power of images can bridge cultural and linguistic barriers. Through initial warm-up drawings and one-on-one meetings with the participants, my aim was to help the artists bring their silent book ideas to life.

“As we walked through the different stages of the workshop, some of my works were passed around and analysed by the participating artists to find answers to questions like: what kind of storytellers they are, what characters, settings, picture language, or technique they would like to use to create their story, and in what ways would they like children to connect with these narratives.”

One of the workshop participants, Khadija Al Mulla, a 26-year-old Emirati national said: “I started illustrating when I was quite young, and I love illustrating for children. I want more UAE locals to illustrate for children and I would love to see more authentic children’s literature to being produced here, seeped in our cultural and human values and conveyed to the younger generations in creative and engaging ways. I believe locally made books will be a source of pride and knowledge for children in the UAE, and will definitely enrich our literary landscape.”

“I’m here to gain an insight about the mentality of illustrators, to learn about what to have in mind while illustrating for children, what are things that are appealing to them, things one should avoid… what is most appealing to the publishers, let’s say. I won’t reveal much about my book idea, but all I will say is that it is focuses on the human emotion of greed, and how children can avoid it.”

Another workshop participant, 32-year-old Asma Enayeh, a mother of two young girls says that for young children pictures are the pillars of the story. For her, illustrations are the starting point of learning and communication for children as pictures help them explore their surroundings, and bring them into contact with objects that they don’t necessarily understand but open possibilities for them to be creative and build dreams.

“I have been working as a freelance artist in Dubai for six years working on custom portraits, and children’s illustrations are my greatest passion. I want turn this into a full-time profession and, as I am a traditionalist – I like to sketch by hand. Thus, I have been attending programmes and workshops that can hone my traditional drawing skills. This workshop is of immense value to me as it is focusing on teaching us a variety of drawing techniques that I didn’t know existed. Today, for example, Katrin taught us the hatching technique on acrylic, and I decided my silent book will be based on this technique.”

The annual UAEBBY and Goethe-Institut Gulf Region project, sponsored by Sharjah-based cultural initiative Knowledge without Borders, brings international experts to the UAE to expand the reach and ability of Emirati authors and illustrators of children’s books.

UAEBBY and Goethe-Institute Gulf Region Announce 7th Edition of Books – Made in UAE

The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and Goethe-Institut Gulf Region have announced that the 7th edition of their annual cultural collaboration, ‘Books – Made in UAE’, will focus on silent books, highlighting their effectiveness as a mine of information and imagination.

The textless books are proving to be more popular and more powerful than ever before in helping to stimulate children’s imaginations, as both the quantity of its practitioners and the quality of their creations increases.

A four-day workshop for 13 UAE-based artists will be conducted by multi-award winning German illustrator Katrin Stangl at the 1971 Design Space at Sharjah’s Flag Island from 5 – 8 May 2018, where the participants will be given the opportunity to develop their own silent book ideas.

The annual UAEBBY and Goethe-Institut Gulf Region project, sponsored by Sharjah-based cultural initiative Knowledge without Borders, brings international experts to the UAE to expand the reach and ability of Emirati authors and illustrators of children’s books.

In the run-up to the workshop, the participants have been encouraged to think about topics that are connected to their everyday lives, such as special days celebrated in the UAE, animals living in a desert environment, myths, legends, individual experiences, famous places, or a collection of ideas and topics as well as a story.

The workshop advice to students is to think ‘small and simple’ because the pictures will tell the true story and provide all the content that is needed.

Author and illustrator Katrin Stangl has won a host of some of the world’s most respected accolades including the Hans-Meid-Preis für Buchillustration and received the bronze medal in the “Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt” (World’s Most Beautiful Books). Her latest publications, ‘Die Hauskatze ist selten eine Weiße’ (The Cat is Seldom White), and ‘Schwimmt Brot in Milch?’ (Does Bread Swim in Milk?), have received rave reviews.

Ms Stangl will work with the students on their drawing techniques and give them advice for drafting and finishing the pages. By the end of the course, every participant will have a complete storyline and at least two double-pages in full color.

Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of the UAEBBY, said: “Silent books are an excellent medium to inspire children to use their imaginations, conveying a story in its simplest terms without the need for text to portray the same plots, messages and characters.

“Pictures and illustrations are universal, which not only helps the children to comprehend the stories relevant to their own community, it opens the doors and bridges the gaps to other cultures. By attending these workshops, the talented artists will be able to understand the concepts and intricacies of storytelling without words and use that experience to produce their own work.”

Highlighting the importance of the UAEBBY and Goethe-Institut collaboration, Fareed Majari, General Manager of the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, said: “The ‘Books – Made in UAE’ initiative is a wonderful chance to reinforce the relationship between German and UAE culture and enjoy a partnership where both nations can benefit from the others’ experience. The Gulf region is particularly important in helping us to continue that mutual cooperation, especially in Sharjah where this project has enabled us to work with some of the most talented up-and-coming artists looking to make their own mark in children’s literature.”

The English language workshop runs with an all day schedule from 9:30am-4:30pm.

‘Books – Made in UAE’ supports the development of a sustainable local children’s book industry by training young and aspiring authors and illustrators in the creative process of producing children’s books in Emirati Arabic language. A group of the world’s leading authors and illustrators have participated in organising the project’s workshops in previous years. By 2013, six books, which were produced in the workshops were published and sold. In 2016, the project saw the publication of two books that were created in the 2014 workshops.