Last week I was invited by His Highness Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, to provide an address at a dinner marking the opening of the 2019 Frankfurt Bookfair.

At the dinner hosted by the Sharjah Book Authority, at Frankfurter Buchmesse 2019. Left to right: astronomer Stuart Clark, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, and Gabriel Hemery

I focussed on the importance of trees to life on earth. I wrote a short story dedicated to His Highness, which I read out in part. During the talk I included the precious gift of a single fertile seed from Ziziphus spina-christi also known as Christ’s thorn jujube. This is thought by some to be the Lote tree at the end of the seventh heaven, where incidentally, if I were really an angel I would not be allowed to pass.

  “My gift to the Ruler is the seed of a tree. My gift to His Highness is life.”

Gabriel Hemery, The Ruler and the Author. October 2019

My co-speaker was astronomer Stuart Clark, who talked about the night sky and our relationship with it over time. Stuart and I discovered that we shared many interesting views and perspectives. You could say it was a meeting of two minds representing heaven and earth.

During dinner after the talks, His Highness told me he had seven million seeds conserved in a seed bank. I replied that he now had seven million and one!

About Frankfurter Buchmesse

Frankfurter Buchmesse is the international publishing industry’s biggest trade fair – with over 7,500 exhibitors from 109 countries, around 285,000 visitors, over 4,000 events and some 10,000 accredited journalists and bloggers in attendance. It is the most important international marketplace for content – from novels and children’s books to academic databases and stories for films, games and virtual reality experiences. Publishing professionals from around the world meet here with partners from the technology sector and from related creative and cultural industries, sparking new partnerships and business models. A strong conference programme ensures that Frankfurter Buchmesse is a major source of inspiration for content experts from around the world. Since 1976, the book fair has featured an annual Guest of Honour country, which showcases its book market, literature and culture to attendees in a variety of ways. Frankfurter Buchmesse organises the participation of German publishers at around 20 international book fairs and hosts trade events throughout the year in major international markets. Frankfurter Buchmesse is a subsidiary of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association). Visit the website

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