Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), Member of the Executive Committee of the International Publishers Association (IPA), and Founder and CEO of Kalimat Group has said that there are significant opportunities for the development and prosperity of the publishing sector in the region, but that more effort and work should be done for the development of the Arab publishing industry.
Speaking during the Frankfurt Book Fair, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi said that technological advances in the publishing field, such as the popular use of electronic and audio books and the development of digital technologies, are new and dynamic opportunities that should be appropriately employed in the publishing industry in the UAE.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi said, “Since the establishment of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), the publishing industry has seen significant and remarkable advancements in the past few years, accompanied by significant cultural mobility across the country. We have managed to advance the publishing sector in the country through training and motivating UAE publishers, providing care to workers in the field of publishing, improving the conditions and laws related to the profession in the UAE, and cooperating with local institutions involved in publishing, printing, and distribution. The EPA is also active in defense of publishers’ rights and the protection of intellectual property rights.”
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi added that the UAE has the ability to continue to make progress in the publishing sector particularly due to the advanced service infrastructure and the continuously updated laws that regulate the sector. We have supportive laws that appeal to Arab and foreign investors in the publishing sector,” she added. “The EPA has played a key role in the development of the sector in the UAE through representing Emirati publishers in local, regional and international exhibitions, and providing the necessary requirements to improve the industry. Each year, new Emirati publishing houses and independent publishers join the Association. We now see the specialization of a sizable number of new publishing houses, which is a healthy and promising phenomenon.”
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi highlighted the positive impact joining the International Publishers Association in 2012 has had on the UAE and its development of the sector through maintain communication with other members from around the world. Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi also congratulated Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Jordan, and China for joining the International Publishers Association yesterday and stressed the importance of this step in raising the level of Arab representation in the IPA, allowing Arab publishers to work more closely with member states, and promoting the Arab culture, publications, and authors from all over the Arab world.
“We all know that the publishing profession is a profoundly intellectual business and has been well established in the West over hundreds of years. We, in the Arab world, must communicate and cooperate with international experts in this sector to develop our industry and reach international markets,” Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi said.
However, Sheikha Bodour stressed that there are challenges in the Arab publishing industry, “Despite the launch of several initiatives, grants, and awards that support the translation of books from Arabic into other languages, Arabic books are still among the least translated books in the world. This is due to many reasons, but primarily the lack of agents in the Arab world working on the promotion of Arab publications around the world, as is the case in Europe, America, and Asia.”
But according to Sheikha Bodour there is much to be optimistic about, particularly where Arab children’s books are concerned. Sheikha Bodour Al Qassimi said, “Today, we can find many quality children’s publications, but we need to continue to work on improving quality and quantity. We, at Kalimat Group, started to produce children’s Arabic books seven years ago because we saw the absence of quality children’s books in Arabic. By the grace of Allah, we were able to publish more than 250 high quality books and a number of them were translated in to more than 10 international languages. We have also won a group of Arab and international awards. We have achieved progress in this regard during the past 10 years but we cannot ignore the need to raise the standard of children’s books.”
“We have seena genuine desire from our young readers who have reached adolescence to continue reading Arabic books of good quality. Therefore we established Riwayat, a company specialized in publishing novels and short stories for adolescents and young adults, and whose publications will include the names of renowned Arab and foreign authors, and winners of international awards.”
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi added that the Kalimat Group will soon announce the launch of a new international humanitarian educational project for children around the world.“Through the Kalimat Groupwe are able to reach children living in unstable conditions. Out of a personal conviction that every child in this world has the right to access books, knowledge and have opportunities for a good education, we are working on an international project, the details of which will be announced soon.”
The 3rd Arab Publishers Conference is set to be held in Sharjah on November 2-3, and as the Founder and Patron of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi said, “As hosts of the 3rd Arab Publishers Conference we will shed light on the opportunities and challenges facing the industry today and through dialogue, panel discussions and workshops, find solutions, possibilities and opportunities to advance the publishing sector in the Arab region.”
The conference, being held under the theme “Publishing Industry: Prospects and Challenges of the Digital Age” will bring together various experts and specialists from around the world to discuss issues related to libraries, education, property rights, digital piracy, electronic distribution, freedom of publication, translation, and content development. Sessions dedicated to networking and relationship building will be held during the conference, in addition to professional meetings between participants in the conference.