Arab publishing industry lags behind: Shaikha Bodour
Arab publishing industry is yet to tap its potential fully and it needs a concerted effort for development of publishing sector in the region, according to the founder of first publishing house in the country.
Shaikha 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 made this comment while speaking during the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Shaikha Bodour Al Qasimi said, “Since the establishment of the EPA, the publishing industry in the country 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 through training, providing care to workers in the field of publishing, motivating publishers and improving laws related to the profession in the UAE. The EPA also proactive in defending publishers’ rights and the protection of intellectual property rights.”
Shaikha Bodour 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 specialisation of a sizeable number of new publishing houses, which is a healthy and promising phenomenon.” Shaikha Bodour highlighted the positive impact joining the IPA in 2012 has had on the UAE. She also congratulated Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Jordan, and China for joining the IPA 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.”
However, Shaikha Bodour stressed that there are challenges in the Arab publishing industry.
“Despite the launch of several initiatives, Arabic books are still among the least translated books in the world. This is due to many reasons, but primarily it is due to the lack of agents in the Arab world to promote Arab publications around the world, compared to Europe, America, and Asia.”
However, there is much to be optimistic about, particularly where Arab children’s books are concerned. Shaikha Bodour 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 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 seen a genuine desire from our young readers who have reached adolescence to continue reading Arabic books of good quality. Therefore we established Riwayat, a company specialised 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.”
The Kalimat Group will soon announce the launch of a new international humanitarian educational project for children.
“Through the Kalimat Group, we 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.”
About the third Arab Publishers Conference set to be held in Sharjah on November 2-3, she 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.”
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