6th edition of Arab Publishers Conference explores innovative strategies to advance the regional publishing industry
Sharjah, November 2, 2022
Under the patronage and presence of Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), the sixth edition of the two-day Arab Publishers Conference (APC) kicked off on Wednesday at Expo Centre Sharjah coinciding with the opening of the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair. Organised by Emirates Publishers Association in partnership with Sharjah Book Authority, the conference was held under the theme, ‘Arabic Content Creation and Post-Pandemic Challenges’, and brought together distinguished local and regional personalities including Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth; Mohamed Rashad, President of the Arab Publishers Association (APA); and Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, in the presence of HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), representatives from the League of Arab States as well as 35 publishers and speakers. In her keynote speech, Bodour Al Qasimi shared three lessons learnt during her tenure as President of IPA when she visited book fairs in the region and around the world and met with publishers associations from over 25 countries. She said these lessons include the necessity of working and communicating with the global publishing sector, strengthening bilateral regional cooperation between publishers, in addition to promoting policies of diversity and inclusion to achieve positive change. The IPA President said: “The global publishing sector is currently witnessing rapid and transformative developments. This requires Arab publishers to keep themselves up-to-date through continuous and active engagements with regional and international publishers, institutions, and organisations if they must remain an important partner in international deliberation on the realities and future of the publishing sector.” Bodour Al Qasimi added: "The major success stories in the publishing industry are the outcome of effective bilateral regional cooperation between publishers in the same geographic region, especially those that share a similar language or cultural values. Arab publishers should strengthen regional cooperation to utilise shared resources to reach more readers around the world, and boost growth opportunities.”
UAE’s comprehensive support for the publishing ecosystem
For her part, HE Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, asserted the importance of convening APC alongside SIBF 2022, pointing out that the book fair is one of the major Arab and international cultural events and has a positive impact on the Arab publishing ecosystem. The Minister said that this reflects the growth of the UAE’s publishing sector and the corresponding increase in demand for investments in the book industry which is the result of the milestones and successes achieved by the UAE over the past years in organising exhibitions, launching literary awards, providing incentives and introducing legislation that protects and safeguards rights of publishers and authors and supports the development of the publishing sector ecosystem, locally and regionally.
Culture brings Arabs together
In a recorded message, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, emphasised that the league considers culture as a bridge between Arab countries, adding that culture is a strong and everlasting bond as it is based on the Arabic language used by Arabs to read and create academic and creative content. The Secretary-General praised the growing segment of readers in the Arab world due to the launch of strong and successful reading initiatives, especially by the UAE. He urged Arab governments to continue their support for the publishing industry due to its vital societal and cultural role.
Sharjah, a city of arts and culture
For his part, Mohamed Rashad, President of the Arab Publishers Association, lauded the patronage and support of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, for the publishing industry. Rashad pointed out that the Sharjah Ruler has sponsored the participation of Arab Publishers Union in international exhibitions in Frankfurt, London, Paris and Bologna. Iman Ben Chaibah, Vice-President of EPA, pointed out that APC aims to deliberate strategies to accelerate the creation of tools and solutions to reach a wider network of readers and meet the demands of various segments of society. The EPA Vice President added this was essential especially for students and scholars due to the increased adoption of remote learning, which makes Arabic content creation and development a key priority.
Day 1 sessions
Day 1 of the Arab Publishers Conference included four sessions and opened with a discussion titled ‘Book Fairs during the Era of Digitisation’. Panel members on the session included HE Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre; Iman Ben Chaibah, Vice President of EPA ; Dr. Jamal Yahyaoui, Director of the National Book Center and Head of the Historical Archives and Documents Office in Algeria; Dr. Shukri Al Mabkhout, author and academic critic from Tunisia; and Ali Abd El-Moneim, Publishing and Partnerships Consultant for Egypt. The other sessions included: ‘Digitisation Impact on Copyrights During the Pandemic: Challenges and Opportunities’, ‘Developing Publishers and Publishing Industry and Addressing the Evident Skills Gap’, and ‘Post-pandemic Marketing Opportunities for the Arabic Book’.