SHARJAH, UAE: The first ever printed book in Egypt, the first edition of the illustrated account of Western travellers to the Middle East, the first edition of a history of astronomy from prehistoric times to date; all are among the first of firsts regarding books and maps about this region being exhibited in the ongoing Sharjah Heritage Days which will end on April 23.
The original editions of books printed about this region range from the 15th to the 19th centuries. From 1400AD to 1899AD, books can be seen in the wing of the section of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) in what they call “The Light of Civilisation” exhibition.
The collection is of books about the Middle East and North African (Mena) region, in addition to a variety of maps of the Arab and Islamic world; albums and secret correspondence between the British and local governments.
The books are from the Netherlands and Austria-based Antiquariaat Forum and Inlibris respectively.
Haura Al-Saad, the owners’ representative, is stationed in the wing, ready to take visitors and introduce them to the golden valuables available there.
In the covered glasses where “you can see but not touch” are titles including ten parts of a translated series of Arabian Nights and its notes.
A statement from SBA states that as part of Sharjah Heritage Days, this exhibition “reflects the physical and intellectual diversity and uniqueness of the art of the written and printed book. It also reflects the art of the image, illustration and the historical map.”
Among these collectibles are a rare, ornamented and coloured copy of the Holy Qur’an and a collection of watercolour paintings. Also in the exhibition is a map of Arabia and the surrounding countries, including some details along the west coast of the Red Sea, Egypt and Nubia. Also shown is the route of Persian caravans across ancient Arabia.
Upon raising one’s eyes, a visitor can see a rotating celestial spherical globe bordered by four, pivoting, concentric rings.