The superstar grandpa at SCRF 2023 who’s keeping the
storytelling tradition alive in the age of AI
Hashem Kaddoura is a hit among children not just for his star power
but also for how he’s keeping them glued to him without gadgets
Sharjah, May 08, 2023
At 66, Hashem Kaddoura may be a little too old for many to be a conventional model and perhaps a little too young for some to be a granddad but at the ongoing Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), he’s pulling off both roles with equal elan, telling stories of space and sustainability to schoolchildren raised on gadgets, tech and AI. And what’s best – he’s keeping them all glued for as long as he talks.
“That’s the magic of storytelling and I am glad I am able to keep it alive in some way in this day and age” says Kaddoura, who’s spending his time at the SCRF – taking place at the Sharjah Expo Centre until May 14 – dressed as the festival’s unofficial ‘hakawati’ (storyteller) in traditional Emirati kandura.
“It’s just one of the many roles I have played in my life, and I am loving it because it involves connecting with children who, I feel, are still receptive to good stories. I am amazed that some things haven’t changed and it’s just like how we sat around our grandparents when we were small, waiting for them to tell stories of their times. Only the setting has changed,” says Kaddoura.