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Unfinished Stories: Remembering the Human Cost of War

Visitors were drawn to a dramatic and melancholy display named "Unfinished Stories" at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).

At the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), a powerful and sad display titled “Unfinished Stories” caught visitors’ attention. 

Thousands of names were meticulously listed in white on a vast black poster. These were not the names of famous individuals, nor were they selected at random. 

Rather, they were the names of people whose lives were abruptly cut short by a series of airstrikes.

A Heart-Wrenching Reminder by Uhibbook Publishing:

The local publishing house, Uhibbook Publishing, organized the heart-wrenching tribute. It served as a stark reminder of the true human cost of war. 

Sadia Anwar, the founder of the publishing house, expressed the duality of the current situation, saying, “Right now, it feels like we are leading a split life. 

On one side, we are all going on with our daily lives, while on the other side, we are witnessing entire segments of a population being wiped out.”

The Painstaking Effort Behind the Display:

The founders of Uhibbook Publishing described the significant effort that went into creating this tribute. It took them nearly a week to compile the list. 

They started by downloading the list published by the authorities, which included names in Arabic. Translating these names into English proved to be a challenging task. 

Some names were challenging to translate accurately, and in some cases, titles preceded the names, requiring a name-by-name approach.

Documenting the Tragedy:

The names on the poster were drawn from a list of 6,747 documented deaths published by the Gaza Health Ministry at the end of October. 

This list represents the devastating impact of the conflict, with Hamas launching an attack on Israel in early October, resulting in the deaths of 1,400 people. 

In response, Israel’s retaliatory bombings in Gaza have claimed the lives of over 8,000 people and displaced more than one million.

The Emotional Toll on the Team:

While assembling the list was a challenging endeavor, the emotional toll on the team was even more profound. 

Sadia Anwar pointed out heart-wrenching instances where entire families, consisting of people of all ages, were killed. 

These individuals had dreams, hopes, and talents they aspired to contribute to the world. Tragically, not only were their lives cut short, but their homes were destroyed, and all their possessions were lost. 

It felt as though any evidence of their existence was being erased.

Remembering Those with Unfinished Stories:

The publishers at Uhibbook Publishing believed that the least they could do was to remember these individuals. 

They emphasized their core belief that everyone has a story to tell. As a publishing house, its mission is to ensure that these names and the stories they represent are not forgotten. 

These were real people with dreams and unfinished stories, abruptly halted by the horrors of war.

Positive Reception at the Book Fair:

The “Unfinished Stories” installation has resonated deeply with visitors at the book fair. Charitie Aguma, a volunteer at the stall, mentioned that the display visibly moved some individuals. 

She recounted an Egyptian publisher who spent a significant amount of time reading through the names, returning later with a friend, both visibly affected by the emotional weight of the tribute.

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