The UAE’s advantages as being a centre for the international publishing industry were extolled by HE Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), at a series of meetings at the Global Publishing Summit, which took place in Frankfurt. The activities to promote the UAE as a major publishing hub formed a key component of SBA’s participation at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, currently underway in Germany’s fifth largest city.
During the meetings Al Ameri revealed that the European Union (EU) countries import $33 million of books from the Arab World, with the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Germany and Belgium making up 94% of these imports. The Chairman of SBA highlighted that the Arab world imports $1 billion in books, with the EU having a 29% market share. He explained how this represents a significant opportunity for growth for EU exporters and discussed how basing their operations in the UAE would offer them an array of opportunities to access markets in the developing world.
“The Arab World comprises around 370 million people and demographically is characterised by being a youthful and digitally connected population. The UAE’s publishing market is estimated to be $233 million and expected to triple in size by 2030 – this anticipated growth signals huge opportunities for international publishers,” said Al Ameri.
“The UAE is the EU’s largest trade partner and offers considerable advantages for EU publishers as a regional operational base to access developing markets. Geographically the UAE is at the nexus of Europe, Africa, and Asia with world-class infrastructure to facilitate logistics. We offer one of the most secure and business-friendly regulatory environments, are a cost-efficient alternative to other locations and are home to a highly skilled and well educated workforce,” he added.
Focusing on Sharjah in particular, Al Ameri explained how the emirate had emerged as a leading city in realising the UAE’s vision of becoming a global publishing hub. He reiterated how Sharjah scored in the top 10 rankings for ‘Global Cities of the Future Small and Mid-sized Cities’ in the categories of Economic Potential, Human Capital, Lifestyle, Connectivity, Business Friendliness and Cost Effectiveness. He also paid tribute to the initiatives that Sharjah had instigated over the years to promote a love of literature and which have put Sharjah firmly on the cultural map.
“Ever since its inception, Sharjah has strived to promote the importance of books, with His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah spearheading this drive over the past four decades. Sharjah is home to the third largest book fair in the world, Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), has a dedicated children’s literary event, Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, and hosts numerous campaigns to encourage reading,” said Al Ameri.
SBA continues its presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which runs from October 19-23, to highlight the forthcoming SIBF that takes place November 2-12 at Expo Centre Sharjah.