A French Jewel Dedicated to Inspiring Vision, Qualities of Sharjah Ruler

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As part of its monthly ‘Story of a Prize’ series, Dr Sultan Al Qasimi Centre is celebrating this month an extroardinary honour, the ‘National Order of the Legion of Honour (Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur) with the rank of Commander-in-Chief’ conferred on His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

President of France Emmanuel Macron announced the highest civilian honour for the Ruler of Sharjah on April 11, 2023 at a grand ceremony and the award was formally presented to His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah at Al Badea Palace in Sharjah by HE Noclas Niemtchinow, Ambassador of France to the UAE.

The French honour recognised the Sharjah Ruler’s historic cultural, literary, educational and scientific contributions as well as efforts for robust relations and cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and the French Republic in diverse areas including humanitarian, educational, cultural and environmental initiatives.

Presenting the extraordinary honour, the French envoy said his country is pleased to confer the distinction on one of the most distinguished world leaders and global figures.

The envoy stressed that the French honour celebrates the qualities and characteristics distinguished by His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, praising his efforts in the field of arts and culture. He lauded the various cultural, artistic and educational projects that have flourished in the emirate, making “it a true reference in the region and the world in these fields, and a place that is unique in organising a number of international cultural events and activities supervised by dedicated institutions.”

Sharjah’s real investment

He particularly referred to the Sharjah Biennial, the Sharjah International Book Fair, and the various world-class universities that the emirate houses. “The real investment in Sharjah is the education and training of youth in science and knowledge, in addition to His Highness’s personal contribution to writing and publishing, important historical manuscripts, and geography,” the envoy added.

Accepting the honour, His Highness Sharjah Ruler thanked President Macron for choosing him for the highest national honour of the French republic.

The French national honour recognised the Sharjah Ruler’s distinguished and multifaceted leadership in areas as diverse as culture, youth education, humanitarian initiatives, civilisational dialogue, peaceful co-existence and fruitful bilateral relations.

Lifelong affair with France

It’s worth pointing out that the Sharjah Ruler has been keen to collect everything written about the cultural history of France. He has been able to acquire approximately 8,000 titles, and decided to establish a scientific institute for these books in Sharjah, similar to the Egypt Institute in Cairo. But when the insitute was burnt down in December 2011, he got the complex rebuilt and gifted all the books he had acquired to the institute.

In his accpetance speech, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi said: “I placed a financial deposit for the Egyptian Institute to protect it from need in future and I returned to collecting everything that I presented to the Egyptian Academy all over again, as these French books are rare, but I will finish collecting them soon and I have begun building the Sharjah Institute for these books. I have also begun writing the cultural history of France, which consists of four chapters.”

The Order of the Legion of Honour with the rank of Commander-in-Chief, awarded since 1802, enjoys immense prestige and importance in and outside France. It is considered the highest national decoration in France and is awarded to both French and foreign figures, in appreciation of their extraordinary contribution in various fields and for efforts to strengthen relations of cooperation.

France has been keen to bolster cooperation with the emirate in a number of areas by setting up cultural centres and strengthening cooperation in education, cinema and arts, scientific research, energy, environmental preservation, waste and water management etc.

Led by the forward-looking vision of the Ruler, Sharjah has been a fertile and fruitful environment for cultural, artistic and heritage projects, and opens its arms to all cooperation that serves humanity and promotes the values of brotherhood and tolerance. His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi has been known around the world as a man of wisdom and peace and the patron of social and cultural projects that put people at the forefront.

The award story this month reflects a long journey of work and contributions for the benefit of humanity from a leader distinguished by vision, dignity, glory, wisdom, and peace.

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