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His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al-Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and Member of the Supreme Council, launched the French edition of his latest work Bibi Fatima and the King’s Sons in a glorious, ornate ballroom at the Musée D’Orsay in Paris during the Salon du Livre book show in the French capital.
It was a typically grand occasion that began with a clever piece of theatre as the face of His Highness’ heroine was picked out in bright red muslin in a giant frame on the stage. The novel is a historical drama set around the history of the Strait of Hormuz – the stretch of water between the Arabian Gulf and Persia – and in a thoughtful address, France’s former Minister of Culture, Donnedieu de Vabres, noted that His Highness had chosen a powerful woman to be his main character.
His Highness writes of Hormuz: ‘The population comprises people of all nations. If you happen to go one day to visit a friend, you would see that he lives in a house where there reside Christians, Jews [and many faiths], all living religiously independent from the others. In spite of their religious differences, they all keep good neighbourly relations as they talk to and visit one another socially with no restrictions.”
It is a piece of writing that could almost be about Sharjah today, an emirate known for its culture and tolerance.