Earlier this month, IFLA’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Division Committee met over two days in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The meeting created a momentum that will carry forwards the Committee’s work to build action to support libraries across the region over the next two years.

Group of men and women in a room, with a table in front of them and a screen showing a presentation behind them
Participants at the IFLA MENA Regional Division Committee meeting, Sharjah, UAE, 5-6 Nov 2023

Thanks to a grant from Stitching IFLA Global Foundation, IFLA has been able to create possibilities for our new regional structures to build connections, understanding and energy by bringing members together.

The meeting of our Middle East and North Africa Regional Division Committee, kindly hosted by the Sharjah Book Authority, provided just such an opportunity for one of our newest bodies, which was only created in 2021.

Colleagues from Syria to Yemen, and from Morocco to Iraq attended, with many staying on to participate in the ALA Sharjah International Library Conference.

At a time of instability in the region, the commitment of participants to taking long and sometimes unpredictable journeys to participate was recognised by IFLA Secretary General, Sharon Memis, who underlined the enthusiasm and resilience of the region’s libraries, and IFLA’s ongoing goal to support them. In a video message, SIGL Board Chair Glòria Pérez-Salmerón set out her commitment to seeing stronger regional library fields around the world.

Group of five people discussing at a table, in front of a lap top. From left to right a woman in a black and gold turban-like hat, a woman in a white headscarf and green jacked, a man (standing) in a white tunic and red check headcloth, a man sitting in a dark suit and purple shirt and tie, and a woman, with her back to us, in a black blouse.
Participants discussing at the IFLA MENA Regional Division Committee workshop

The members of the Committee engaged in a varied programme focused not just on finalising their action plans for 2021-2023, but also on building capacity and sharing insights to support IFLA’s wider work.

Individual sessions focused in particular on increasing the number of MENA countries represented on the Library Map of the World, engagement in Voluntary National Reviews of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and making most effective use of IFLA tools.

The result is both a plan, and the energy to carry it forwards successfully. IFLA is looking forwards to making participation in a global field a reality for as many colleagues as possible in MENA, and to seeing the Regional Division Committee going from strength to strength.

This initiative was made possible thanks to a grant from Stichting IFLA Global Libraries