In my suitcase, wherever I go, there is always a place reserved for the photographic catalog
that tells the story of the Rimini Meeting. But why the photos? Because words flow directly
from the heart, but often they are not enough. As a human being, and as an intellectual, the
Rimini Meeting is the deepest and most dearest experience to my heart. That’s why I changed
the biblical verse “come and see” to “go and show”.
I arrived in Sharjah, the cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates (Dubai is the economic capital and Abu Dhabi the political capital) to give a conference at the Book Fair held there every year.
I was not surprised that it was visited by five million people over the span of two weeks, nor that it was the largest book fair in the world, in terms of buying and selling. What really surprised me were the volunteers. Yes, thousands of volunteers contribute to the organization of the Fair, just like at the Rimini Meeting. These volunteers are there to welcome almost a thousand writers, artists, and intellectuals who participate in the cultural activities of the Book Fair.
Credit: 2021 Sharjah International Book Fair
I asked someone why he volunteered to work at the Book Fair. Mahmoud, who works as director at the Ministry of Social Affairs, replied: “It is an exceptional opportunity to be in close contact with the greatest minds and the most beautiful hearts in the world. Even if I am in close contact with them merely to serve, it’s still a great honor.”
Everyone there proudly repeats the story of the Emir as a young man who—before the oil boom—pledged his dagger, ornaments, and true manly pride, to buy a book which he had no money to pay for it. The Emir always says that pride lies in knowledge, which is why he has dedicated the resources of his emirate to the education and dissemination of books and the arts.
With this group, I didn’t need words to present the Rimini Meeting. They did not hesitate for a moment to send the invitation to present this spiritual experience—which has beauty as its origin and end—to the millions of visitors of the Sharjah Book Fair
They decided to dedicate a day of next year’s Fair to the Rimini Meeting. This will be how the Rimini Meeting will continue its journey, planting a flower in the land chosen by Pope Francis to sign the Document on Human Brotherhood.
Wael Farouq, Member of the cultural board of the Meeting