House of Wisdom showcases rare books at Seoul Book Fair, strengthening ties between Korea and the Islamic world

House of Wisdom showcases rare books at Seoul Book Fair, strengthening ties between Korea and the Islamic world

As part of its participation in the Sharjah Guest of Honour programme at the 65th Seoul International Book Fair, running from 14th to 18th of June, the House of Wisdom (HoW) has unveiled a trove of rare titles – select volumes from the treasured ‘Ettinghausen Collection’ on Islamic art and architecture at the emirate’s expansive pavilion that is promoting Emirati and Arab cultures to Asian audiences through a carefully crafted cultural showcase.

This rare books exhibition, featuring a rich tapestry of engravings, manuscripts, and ornamental treasures, has turned the spotlight on the profound ties and shared narratives that unite Islamic culture with its Korean counterparts. The showcase has also been a major draw for book fair visitors, particularly history enthusiasts, for its detailed recounting of journeys and migration of Arab and Muslim scholars who found a new home in Korea, presented in meticulous documentation of their voyages and translations of the literary and scientific inventions they encountered along the way.

The House of Wisdom also curated a thought-provoking panel discussion, delving into the intricate historical connections between Korea and the Arab and Islamic realms. Hosting Prof. Hee Soo Lee, a distinguished scholar from Hanyang University’s Department of Cultural Anthropology, the session aimed to acquaint the Korean audience with Sharjah’s distinctive journey in fostering cultural and intellectual exchange, and its endeavours to cultivate a knowledge-based society by offering accessibility to research and learning resources, and futuristic libraries.

Marwa Al Aqroubi, Executive Director of HoW, said: “Our rare book exhibition as well as wider programme highlights the depth and longevity of cultural ties between South Korea and the Arab and Islamic world, clearly reflected in our art, architecture, calligraphy, knowledge and literature. We also seek to explore new collaboration opportunities that will further exchange and understanding in the years to come.”

As part of its participation, the HoW delegation led by Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasim,. Chairman of the Department of Government Relations, and head of the Sharjah delegation, visited the National Library of Korea, the National People’s Museum, the National Hangul Museum, and King Sejong Institute, which established a new branch in Sharjah that is going to serve as the institute’s regional headquarter.

These visits focused on learning and exchanging best practices, experiences and expertise, and exploring new opportunities.

Praising HoW’s role as a unique platform for research, learning, and creativity, Lee Hai-young, President of the King Sejong Institute, said: “We look forward to expanding the scope of knowledge exchange with HoW and establish joint initiatives that encourage dialogue between Arab and Korean cultures. The fact that HoW recently hosted the annual meeting of the MENA chapter of our institute, clearly indicates the leading role of Sharjah and its entities in bringing global cultures closer.”

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