Sultan tours libraries during private visit to Portugal

Sharjah Ruler had previously visited Municipal Library of Porto in 2000 when he was working on a book

Sharjah: His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, recently visited several libraries in the Portuguese city of Porto on the sidelines of a private visit to Portugal.

He toured several prestigious academic and cultural monuments, including the Municipal Library of Porto, which was founded in 1833 and is one of the biggest and oldest public libraries in Portugal. Dr Shaikh Sultan then visited the historical Lello Library, which is known as Livraria Lello in Portuguese.

Dr Shaikh Sultan was accompanied by Mousa Abdul Wahid Al Khaja, UAE Ambassador to Portugal, and Dr Amr Abdul Hamid, director of Sharjah Research Academy.

Upon his arrival at the Municipal Library of Porto, Dr Shaikh Sultan was received by Jorge Costa, director-general of the library; Monica Gerairio, the manager in charge of cultural affairs in the Municipality of Porto; and Paula Bonifacio, who is responsible for the section of old books and manuscripts in the library.

Dr Sultan toured the halls and stands of the library, which he had earlier visited in 2000 when he was working on his book ‘A Memorandum for Historians on the Innocence of Ibn Majid’.

In his book, Dr Shaikh Sultan proved the innocence of renowned Arab seaman Ibn Majid, that he did not guide the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama from the African East Coast to India in 1498, a period that marks the entry of European forces to the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf.

The book is the first-ever official documentation on the innocence of Ibn Majid. It is based on the original manuscripts from the diaries of the first voyage of da Gama. The manuscripts were found in the Municipal Library of Porto in Portugal.

Dr Shaikh Sultan said he reviewed the ancient manuscripts written by historians who lived in the time of da Gama, and explained how these manuscripts have led him to the diaries of da Gama’s first voyage which were found in the Porto library. He concluded that it was not Ibn Majid who guided da Gama in his path through the Indian Ocean, rather it was a Christian-Gujarati from India who was in Malindi at the time.

During his tour at Lello Library, Dr Shaikh Sultan met its director Joži Lello, who is the son of its founders; and Aurora Pinto, the manager at the library. Dr Shaikh Sultan toured the library’s various sections where he was briefed by officials on the contents of numerous ancient manuscripts and the first editions of famous international books.

At the end of his tour, Dr Shaikh wrote a note of thanks and appreciation in the guest book at both libraries, praising the immense efforts of the staff working in the two historical libraries that are home to rare treasures.

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