The 23rd meeting of the Union of Arab Writers adjourned Tuesday after deciding to annually commemorate the achievements of writers on Nov. 21 – Arab Writers Day.
The meeting held at the Arab League for the first time since 1979 when the union was transferred to other Arab countries after Egypt signed the Camp David peace treaty with Israel, also focused on the life and works of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz.
In 2005, Mahfouz addressed the Arab League in a conference entitled “The Writer and the Future and expressed his wish that a day be earmarked for celebrating Arab authors and their creativity.
“This was Naguib Mahfouz’s last wish, said Mohamed Salmawy, chief of the Egyptian Writers’ Union, “today we can say that Mahfouz’s aspirations have come true.
“Mahfouz said that cultural unity already exists and is just in need of a proper framework to flourish and stand out. And this framework is no other than the Union of Arab Writers that articulates the features of such unity, he added.
The delegates from the 22-nation Arab League also agreed that the leadership of the union would be based on an election mechanism rather than selection or nomination, with each Arab country entitled to lead the union for only two sessions.
Addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa spoke of the challenges facing today’s writers, including the changes accompanying globalization and the dangers to Arab culture and literature, which once paved the way for the European Renaissance.
Both officials stressed the role of writers in protecting the Arab national identity and addressing issues relating to the challenges posed by aggressions on Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon as well as tensions raging in other parts of the Arab world.
The conference was also attended by the Syrian chief of the Union of Arab Writers Akla Ersan and delegations representing the different Arab writers’ unions and those of Russia, India, Turkey, Italy, Kosovo, Italy and Cyprus.
Fatma and Um Kulthum, Mahfouz’s daughters, as well as a number of luminaries from the Arab entertainment industry and noted authors were also in attendance.