Gothenburg: Sharjah-based Kalimat Foundation for Children’s Empowerment (Kalimat Foundation) has donated 2,000 Arabic books for children of Arab origin in Sweden.
The event was organised in coordination with the Foreign Languages Section of the Stockholm Public Library — known as the International Library — that will distribute the books to 25 libraries across Sweden, with the initiative aiming to better connect Arab children in Sweden with their mother tongue.
Arabic has become the second most commonly spoken language in Sweden, displacing Finnish which had held the position for hundreds of years. According to the Swedish Central Bureau of Statistics, the Syrian community is the largest of the Arab diaspora in Sweden, numbering 158,000 people, followed by the Iraqi community, which is estimated at 136,000 people.
Shaikha Budoor Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, founder and chairperson of Kalimat Foundation, said that providing Arab child immigrants and refugees with books written in their own language enhances their national identity and ensures emotional communication with their countries of origin.
She also visited Gothenburg Library, where she was introduced to the library’s different sections and publications that are being offered to its visitors, in addition to the book selection process and the activities that are being organised to promote reading among the public.
Shaikha Budoor said: “Arab readers who live in non-Arabic speaking countries are hungry for books and titles published in their region. This is where the Kalimat Foundation steps in, as it is committed to providing children with material that they can engage with and which fosters their abilities. This role stems from the foundation’s strong belief in the power and influence of books as a source of knowledge which can open channels of dialogue and lay solid groundwork for the promotion of peace, love and harmony.”
Fatin Dierki, chief librarian of the International Library in Stockholm, expressed her appreciation of the significant addition of titles, with the books being received at the Gothenburg City Library in conjunction with the Gothenburg Book and Library Fair. From there, a collection of the books will be distributed to libraries across western Sweden.
Diekri said: “We thank Kalimat Foundation for supporting our library with these books, which will be available for all Arab children in Sweden to read. The International Library supports public libraries across Sweden with titles in different languages and from different cultures.”