The Business Year

Audrey Azoulay

UAE, UAE, SHARJAH - Diplomacy

Turning a Page

Director-General, UNESCO


A graduate of France’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration and of the Paris Institut d’Etudes Politiques, Audrey Azoulay holds a diploma in business administration from the University of Lancaster (UK). In 2014, as an advisor on culture to the President of the French Republic, she notably initiated the development of a protection plan for heritage in danger, which she was able to implement in 2016 as Minister of Culture and Communication. With a longstanding commitment in favor of intercultural and intergenerational dialogue to advance education for all and the dissemination of scientific and cultural knowledge, she is determined to maintain this commitment as the head of UNESCO.

The head of UNESCO celebrated Sharjah as World Book Capital 2019, encouraging the Emirate in its efforts to build a tolerant, inclusive society.

A window onto our inner lives, books are also the doorway to mutual respect and understanding between people, across all boundaries and differences. In these turbulent times, books embody the diversity of human ingenuity, giving shape to the wealth of human experience and expressing the search for meaning and expression we all share, that drive all societies forward.

Books help weave humanity together as a single family, holding a past in common, a history and heritage, to craft a destiny that is shared, where all voices are heard in the great chorus of human aspiration. Books are our allies in spreading education, science, culture, and information worldwide.

Books are also a form of cultural expression that lives through and as part of a chosen language. Each publication is created in a distinct language and is intended for a language-specific reading audience. A book is thus written, produced, exchanged, used, and appreciated in a given linguistic and cultural setting. This year we highlight this important dimension because 2019 marks the International Year of Indigenous Languages, led by UNESCO, to reaffirm the commitment of the international community to supporting indigenous peoples to preserve their cultures, knowledge, and rights.

This day provides an opportunity to reflect together on ways to better disseminate the culture of the written word and to allow all individuals, men, women, and children to access it. This is the same spirit of inclusion and dialogue that is guiding Sharjah (UAE), designated World Book Capital 2019. This designation takes effect on World Book and Copyright Day 2019. Sharjah was selected in recognition of its program “Read—you are in Sharjah” that proposes to reach out to its marginalized populations and its creative proposals to involve migrant populations in order to act as a motor for social inclusion, creativity, and respect.
With Sharjah, our partners, the International Publishers Association, the International Booksellers Federation, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, and the entire international community, let us join together to celebrate books as the embodiment of creativity, the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding, dialogue, and tolerance. This is UNESCO’s message on World Book and Copyright Day.

*From a speech made on World Book and Copyright Day, April 23, 2019



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