This past November (2016), I had the great fortune to accompany my husband to the United Arab Emirates, where for four days he was a guest author at the Sharjah International Book Fair. Now in its remarkable 35th year!, this fair is attended by a million and a half people over its 2-week span. It was an utterly exhilarating experience for many reasons. But what will remain most memorable is the people we met, people from all over the world. With fear now driving much of the Western world to demonize Islam, it was especially gratifying to meet Muslims from all over -- Emiratis, Pakistanis, Syrians, Tanzanians, Indians, etc., as well as many Westerners -- who were to a person generous, kind, open, curious, intelligent, literate – devoted to reading, to knowledge, to sharing cultures.
In March 2017 I (and my husband) will be returning to the UAE, to participate in the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, in Dubai – a nine-year old, also huge, festival that looks to be as exciting as a TED conference! (You can see my contribution to the Festival’s Author Blog site here, in the Interviews section of the About Victoria page, or on the Festival site.
The rulers of the Emirates believe that ignorance is the world’s greatest evil, and so they support education, knowledge, literacy, and openness to an astonishing degree, quite enviable at a time when my own country seems intent on turning away from all those things. I hope that my continuing to write will contribute, even in a small way, to the continued sharing of ideas of peace and understanding among all people.