Sheikha Bodour calls for a strong Arab publishing sector

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The Congress welcomed Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Dr Ali Bin Tamim, Chairman of the ALC, along with a host of dignitaries.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

The first edition of the International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries was launched on Sunday as part of the 31st Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF 2022) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

Organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the Congress highlighted the current trends in the Arabic publishing and content industry.

The Congress welcomed Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), and Dr Ali Bin Tamim, Chairman of the ALC, along with a host of Arab and international officials, publishers, experts and media representatives.

Special guest speaker Sheikha Bodour launched the event with a Keynote Speech, during which she said: “In recent years, the Arab publishing sector has seen a series of internal debates that are establishing a new understanding of the pivotal role publishing plays, and can play, not only in supporting cultural development but also in supporting the comprehensive development of the people of this region.

“This movement is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but it needs to be built on solid foundations so that we can establish a strong, resilient, and sustainable Arab publishing sector. A key factor to ensure the long-term success of the publishing sector in any region around the world, is the full commitment to respect for copyrights and freedom to publish.”

In his address, Bin Tamim said: “The International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries is a new chapter in the vision and legacy of the late Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to consolidate Abu Dhabi’s position as a global cultural hub. We strongly believe in the importance of publishing and creative industries and the role they play in enhancing the presence of our Arabic language, highlighting its aesthetics and defining features, and underlining the impact it has on introducing our culture and identity to the world.

“The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is building a sustainable cultural sector by investing Dhs30 billion as part of its strategy to support the cultural and creative industry and empower its key players from all over the world.”

In a Keynote Speech titled ‘The 70-20-10 Model for Innovation in Publishing’, Ann Hiatt, the American bestselling author, Silicon Valley veteran and investor, said: “Now is a time of major disruption, there is an incredible opportunity to expand publishing in innovative ways, protecting copyrights and policies. Publishing is extremely important for humanity.”

The first panel discussion of the event, ‘Arabic Publishing: Where Are We, and Where Are We Heading?’, explored the leading Arabic publishing markets, the most popular genres and their respective market shares, the market share of digital books, and the importance of imports in serving the Arabic market. Moderated by Carlo Carrenho, Publishing Consultant, the session brought together Sherif Bakr, Publisher at Al Arabi Publishing and Distributing; Shereen Kreidieh, General Manager at Asala Publishing House; Stefanie Lamprinidi, Regional Content Expansion Manager of Storytel; and Rüediger Wischenbart, President and Founder of Content and Consulting.

During the discussions, Sherif Bakr said: “Initially, I used to think of the 10 per cent as taking risks. However, I later understood that risks could be replaced with welcoming new ideas. I took the risk of introducing new genres, such as comics, in the Egyptian market, and I observed 90 per cent success.”

Shereen Kreidieh said: “In the Arab World, relationships hold high value. For any businessperson, building relationships is vital if they want their business to succeed. The publishing process includes many small and special stories, most of them different from each other. The 70-20-10 model might not just be the right one for the Arab World, but it offers a lot of scope for experimentation as the market is bursting with ideas.”

Stefanie Lamprinidi said: “The Arabic publishing market has a big appeal as we have around 400 million Arabic speakers worldwide. It is the second most widely spoken language in Sweden! When we talk about audiobooks, the first step is educating the public about how they can easily incorporate them into their daily lives.”

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