‘Literature is glue that binds Latin America, Arab World’

SHARJAH: Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Honorary President of Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) and Member of the International Publishers Association (IPA)’s Executive Committee, gave a keynote presentation about the publishing industry and the crucial role it plays in enhancing relationship and strengthening ties between Latin America and the Arab World. This took place at the 24th session of the Sao Paulo International Book Fair, which started on Aug.26 and will conclude on Sept.4.

Sheikha Bodour witnessed the official opening of the book fair and was accompanied by Khalid Khalifa Al Mualla, UAE Ambassador to Brazil. Sheikha Bodour praised the long history of rapprochement of cultures between Brazil and Latin America on the one hand, and the Arab world on the other, which dates back to the mid-19th century. She noted that Latin American literature is a very important cultural product to the Arab world, with many Latin American writers, novelists and poets attracting a considerable attention or Arab readers, intellectuals and publishers, who translated Latin American literary works and published them in various Arab countries.

The key presentation of Sheikha Bodour, at the Sao Paulo International Book Fair, highlighted the pioneering achievements of the Emirati publishing industry over the past few years, which made the UAE a perfect platform for publishers from around the world. It also approached the accomplishments that the EPA has attained since its inception in 2008, leading the UAE to consolidate its position in the publishing industry and become an attraction destination to publishers and workers in this vital sector.

“The UAE is a strategic hub for companies seeking access to emerging publishing markets in the Arab World as well as Africa and Asia. International publishers are attracted by the UAE’s business friendly benefits, including its proximity to emerging publishing markets, hosting large international book fairs and providing translation grants and trading rights to international publishers,” said Sheikha Bodour.

Sheikha Bodour also highlighted the growing publishing trade relationship between Latin America and the Arab World, manifested by the United Nations’ most recent statistics that shows it is approximately worth one million dollars annually.  The export of books to Latin America from the Arab World represents 94% of the annual publishing trade. The UAE makes up 83% of the exports, which is worth $861,650.

“According to the figures, it is clear that there is considerable possibility to increase the volume of imports of books from Latin America to the Arab world, and in return increase the exports of books from the Arab world to Latin America,” Sheikha Bodour added.

On the sidelines of her participation in the Sao Paulo International Book Fair, Sheikha Bodour expressed her hope that Arab and Latin American publishers will continue to work jointly in the best interests of the publishing industry and publishers worldwide. She invited publishers and those interested in the publishing industry in Brazil and Latin America to visit book fairs in the UAE, so that they can get a close insight about the developments of the publishing industry in the UAE and the Arab world.

“Having Sheikha Bodour and the Sharjah delegation in São Paulo was a great chance for the Brazilian Publishers to get to know a little bit better the Arab Book Market and the opportunities that EPA and the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) have for international publishers,” said Luiz Alvaro Salles Aguiar de Menezes, International Affairs Manager at the Chamber of Brazilian Books.

“Brazil has received Arab immigration since 1880 and that had a deep impact on our culture. It is only natural that our book markets can get closer to each other and increase the exchange between Brazil and UAE, specifically with Sharjah which is known to be the cultural capital,” Luiz added.

On the other hand, Salim Omar Salim, Director of Marketing and Sales at SBA, gave a presentation about the Authority and its efforts, projects and initiatives, particularly the SIBF, the Sharjah Children Reading Festival, the ALA Library Conference and the Translation Grant. He also extended an invitation to the Brazilian publishers, authors and illustrators and their counterparts from around the world to participate in these events.
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