Coronavirus Response: Bodour Al Qasimi Launches Emirates Publishers Emergency Fund

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Looking to ‘safeguard publishers’ in the COVID-19 crisis, Bodour Al Qasimi and the Emirates Publishers Association announce new aid for the UAE book industry.

Bodour Al Qasimi at the 2019 Nairobi PublisHer dinner. Image: Nabs Ahmedi

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘With Every Crisis Comes an Opportunity’
This morning (June 10), Bodour Al Qasimi, in her role as the founder and former president of the Emirates Publishers Association, is announcing the creation of a 1 million dirhams “Emirates Publishers Emergency Fund” (US$272,260).

The latest of many world publishing efforts to bolster elements of the publishing industry amid the coronavirus COVID-19, the new effort is being announced to Arab region news media today and is a partnership with the Sharjah Book Authority and the Sharjah Publishing City trade zone development, both led by Ahmed Al Ameri.

The Emirates Publishers Association, as Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, reached its 10th anniversary last spring, and has made enormous strides in leading the professional development and internationalization of the United Arab Emirates’ publishing community and professional leadership.

As of its anniversary activities in March 2019, the organization had grown to 138 publisher-members (from an original cohort of 13) and had then participated in just over 250 international and regional trade-show and book-fair programs, working to elevate Arabic literature in the world marketplace.

The built-in benefit of the new emergency response fund that Bodour is opening is that the association will be gathering data on just what effects the UAE’s industry is experiencing and what’s needed to shore up weak spots as the economic fallout from the pandemic continues.

The publishers association is being tasked with coordinating and communicating with the entire nation’s book-business players, assessing where things stand, where the needs are greatest, and offering guidance on how to apply for assistance offered by the Emirates Publishers Emergency Fund. In the process, the association will be compiling an understanding of how things look on the ground.

‘A More Collaborative Approach’

In this photo from Tuesday (June 6), we see a stretch of beach in Dubai with only a couple of swimmers. Image – iStockphoto: Plamen Galabov

As yet, it’s relatively unclear what effects are being felt by Emirati publishers and their businesses and staffers. At this writing, the 6:33 a.m. ET update (1033 GMT) of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reports 39,904 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 283 deaths in a population of some 9.6 million.

“Safeguarding publishers and promoting the local knowledge industry is the need of the hour because the pandemic has proven beyond doubt the efficacy of the book as the most sustainable tool for spreading awareness.”Bodour Al Qasimi

This may seem a mercifully low set of tallies to those in markets experiencing higher rates of infection and fatality, but it actually puts the UAE within the top 30 nations of the world for caseloads. The good news may be a tapering off of new infections, detected in some of The New York Times database survey work, which sees the rate of infection in the UAE to stand at 414 in every 100,000 people.

The New York Times today is carrying a report of a second day of pilot and cabin-crew layoffs at Emirates airline, “to stave off a cash crunch caused by the coronavirus pandemic, sources told Reuters.” The wire story says that Emirates anticipates needing up to four years to resume service to all 157 of its pre-pandemic destinations.

Bodour and Al Ameri, of course, have worked to bridge the UAE market to the world industry, and in her role as vice-president of the International Publishers Association and founder of the PublisHer networking movement for women in publishing’s leadership, she brings the context of the international pandemic’s impact on publishing to the new fund’s programming.

“The global publishing industry,” she says, “is among the vital economic sectors that have slowed down considerably because of the pandemic.

“But with every crisis comes an opportunity, and we need to rope in appropriate mechanisms to boost industry resilience and emerge stronger. Today, we stand with our publishers to support and lead them onward to fulfilling vital projects that will boost our knowledge and creativity.”

Guidelines and conditions on the allocations the emergency fund will make are being drawn up now, a joint task of the Emirates Publishers Association, the Book Authority and Publishing City.

“It’s with the unfolding of a crisis that cooperation and teamwork gain more value than ever,” Bodour says. “The publishing sector and the cultural community in the UAE have strongly upheld this approach as we navigate current uncertainties and work toward securing our future.

“The Emirates Publishers Emergency Fund,” she says, “is a fresh step in that direction, reflecting a more collaborative approach in promoting the written word.

“Safeguarding publishers and promoting the local knowledge industry is the need of the hour because the pandemic has proven beyond doubt the efficacy of the book as the most sustainable tool for spreading awareness, promoting values of peace and coexistence, and encouraging cultural dialogue.”

Ahmed Al Ameri

And adding his support for the effort, Sharjah Book Authority’s Al Ameri is stressing that such efforts “are key to enabling the UAE publishing sector to advance and thrive.” The new emergency fund, he says to Publishing Perspectives “will propel Sharjah to take a quantum leap forward in establishing itself as a world-class publishing hub in the region.”

Al Ameri says that the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have called for closer cooperation and collaboration amongst relevant industry stakeholders.

“Through a wide range of services and facilities managed and coordinated by Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone,” Al Ameri says, the book authority “will extend support to publishers to continue boosting the UAE cultural sector’s prospects, thereby ensuring the growth and development of the Emirati book market.”

To Alert Us to Your Pandemic Plans and Updates

We’re receiving good input from many associates in the world book industry as you can see in our stories on coronavirus impact and response, and in our collection of Coronavirus Worklife articles. We’d be glad to consider your coronavirus-related news for our international readership. If you’d like to be in touch, contact Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the UAE is here, more from us on the emirate Sharjah is here, and more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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