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Five reasons to experience the magic of the SCRF this weekend

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The Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), a highlight in the UAE’s annual cultural calendar, has returned for its 15th edition. Spanning 12 days and boasting over 1,500 activities, this festival runs until May 12 and promises an unforgettable experience at the Expo Centre Sharjah.

Here are five reasons why you should attend SCRF this weekend: 

1. A theatrical wonderland: The SCRF transcends the typical reading festival by offering a rich tapestry of sensory delights. This weekend, immerse yourself in the enchanting world of theatre with performances that promise to mesmerise. Enjoy the melodious voice of Arab sensation Rasha Rizk as she brings anime and cartoon classics to life on May 4. Her performance will be followed by the dynamic Masaka Kids Africana, on May 5, whose electrifying dance routines and infectious energy will captivate your heart. Another theatrical treat, ‘Hum Bhi Agar Bacche Hote’ – storytelling by renowned Pakistani playwright Waseem Badami will be staged at 5pm at the SCRF Ballroom Theatre on Sunday.

2. Workshops for every interest: The festival buzzes with a plethora of workshops that cater to every age and interest. From coding and science to arts, dance, and even cookery, there’s an adventure waiting around every corner. On Friday, for instance, you have furniture making and car making workshops. Mini Fashion shows allow children to design, sew, and display their creativity on the runway. Have a smashing good time at the Smash Room by breaking a collection of goodies such as plates to let off steam. 

Dive into the daily agenda and find yourself spoiled for choice, making it tough to pick just one activity.  

3. A book haven: Books are the heart and soul of this festival. With contributions from more than 186 publishers, visitors have an unparalleled opportunity to explore vast genres, snap up new releases, and enjoy cosy reading nooks perfect for losing yourself in a good story.

4. Engaging sessions for parents and caregivers: Navigating parenthood in the digital age comes with unique challenges. The festival offers specialised workshops aimed at helping parents and caregivers manage the digital landscape effectively. Parents can head to the Cultural Forum or the Social Media cafe over the weekend to hear from experts including Dr Ahmed Bassiouni and Hamsa Younis on The Role of Family Counseling in Modifying the Behaviour of Children and Youth. There will be sessions on The Importance of Libraries in Promoting Academic Success, and How AI can be used to deliver personalised learning. 

5. Culinary delights and creative spaces: Every corner of the festival bursts with creativity and colour, creating a feast for the senses. Let your curiosity lead the way as you explore vibrant halls filled with art and innovation. Don’t forget to indulge in an assortment of cookery programmes, such as, Divine Sushi Sandwich, Parfait blast, Pizza Muffins, Chinese Tea Workshop, South Asian and Middle Eastern Cuisines, and much more. You can rub shoulders or learn from the best chefs during the weekend. Some of the popular chefs hosting workshops over the weekend include Omari McQueen, Imad Al Arnab, Natalia Samoilova, Zaynah Din and more.    

Besides, there’s also an array of delicious food options available, from food trucks to gourmet kiosks, ensuring a treat for your taste buds as well as your spirit.

The Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival is a haven for children, parents, and anyone with a youthful spirit or an appreciation for creativity. Whether you come for the enthralling workshops, to indulge in literature, or simply to enjoy some quality family time, you’ll depart with a smile, enriched by the joy of shared stories and new discoveries. 

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UFC Fight Night set for August 3 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi

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UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation, returns to Abu Dhabi for an action-packed fight as No. 2 ranked bantamweight Cory Sandhagen faces No. 9 ranked Umar Nurmagomedov on August 3.

Tickets for the event, to be held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), go on sale on Tuesday via etihadarena.ae and ticketmaster.ae.

Sandhagen (17-4, fighting out of Aurora, Colorado) returns to the UAE capital to cement his status as top contender in the bantamweight division. The Colorado native boasts wins over Rob Font, Chito Vera, and soon-to-be UFC Hall of Famer Frankie Edgar. He now hopes for a convincing win over rising star Nurmagomedov to make his case for a title shot.

Nurmagomedov (17-0, fighting out of Chelyabinsk, Russia) looks to put the division on notice by taking out a top-ranked opponent and making his first Octagon appearance in Abu Dhabi.

Nurmagomedov made his mark in the division after delivering dominant performances over Raoni Barcelos, Brian Kelleher and Sergey Morozov. Now, he sets his sights on securing the biggest win of his career by getting his hand raised against Sandhagen.

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Saudi Arabia’s Qiddiya to build ‘Aquarabia’, region’s largest water theme park

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Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) has unveiled plans for Aquarabia, Saudi Arabia’s groundbreaking water theme park, set to open in 2025 alongside Six Flags Qiddiya City, marking a significant milestone in entertainment and tourism development.

Aquarabia, designed to embody the essence of Saudi hospitality and adventure, will feature an array of thrilling attractions, including four world-record-breaking rides and immersive experiences tailored for families. Complementing this, Six Flags Qiddiya City promises an adrenaline-fueled experience with its twenty-eight rides and attractions, including five record-breaking coasters.

Both parks, situated within Qiddiya City, will offer visitors a seamless and exhilarating entertainment experience, supported by innovative design and sustainability initiatives. With an expected creation of 10,000 jobs and a focus on environmental conservation, these developments align with Saudi Vision 2030’s goals, contributing to economic diversification and fostering local tourism.

Aquarabia and Six Flags Qiddiya City exemplify Qiddiya City’s commitment to sustainability by incorporating state-of-the-art technology for water use and waste management. These initiatives underscore Qiddiya City’s role as a master-planned destination dedicated to creating unforgettable experiences while prioritizing environmental stewardship.

The launch of Aquarabia signifies yet another milestone in Qiddiya City’s journey to becoming a global entertainment hub, offering diverse attractions that cater to the evolving needs of visitors and residents alike.

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Sushi-making with a ME twist at SCRF inspires young chefs

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 An interesting and kid-friendly version of the famous Japanese sushi has been a highlight of the cookery workshops at the 15th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), whose 15th annual edition is running until May 12 in Expo Centre Sharjah.

Armed with rolling pins, over a dozen young chefs set about flattening bread slices after chopping off their crust; then they squirted blobs of cream cheese on each slice and spread it to make the perfect bed for a thin slice of cucumber, sprinkled zaatar to spice up the rendition before rolling and securing it with a toothpick. 

Some even cut each rolled slice into smaller pieces to make it a tidy snack.

Aptly named “Divine Sushi Sandwich”, the preparation was truly divine for its nutritious quotient, ease of making and presentation. According to its creator Lamia Msallam, the sandwich made in sushi style is a safe and healthy option for young children. 

After four days of sandwich making, a “Mini Sushi Cake” workshop will engage children for the next four days, followed by another new dish with the same focus on healthy eating. The Palestinian chef added that she will use the nori paper used in sushi making for the ‘cake’ but without rolling it like in traditional sushi preparations.

The 15th edition, which runs from May 1-12, has the theme “Once Upon a Hero”. The 12-day action-packed festival for young readers, artists and creatives as well as their families showcases millions of books including latest releases in children’s and Young Adult (YA) literature from across the globe. 

SCRF 2024 is also offering the region’s largest platform for cultural and artistic appreciation with theatrical performances, culinary demonstrations, workshops in STEM, social media, music, and several exciting competitions, activities, animation events.

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