Sharjah Relief Fund Supports Publishers Affected by the Beirut Blast

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The Sharjah World Book Capital Office and Sharjah Book Authority are providing new grants to support Lebanese publishers and the book fairs on which much of the sector’s revenue depends.

A view of the Port of Beirut after the August 4 explosion caused by warehoused ammonium nitrate. The blast killed some 200 people and injured around 6,000, according to Smithsonian Magazine figures. Image: Provided by Sharjah World Book Capital Office

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

Support for Publishers and Book Fairs
Readers will remember our story from last month about the emirate Sharjah stepping forward to help restore three libraries–the Assabil Association‘s Monot, Geitawi, and Bachoura neighborhood libraries–damaged in the disastrous August 4 explosion in the Port of Beirut.

Today (October 7),  a new announcement details an expansion of Sharjah’s engagement, embracing the needs of Lebanese publishers in an act of solidarity for a sister UNESCO World Book Capital city. Beirut held the designation in 2009, 10 years prior to Sharjah’s year. Today, the Sharjah Book Authority, headed by Ahmed Al Ameri, is working with the Sharjah World Book Capital, headed by Bodour Al Qasimi, to create both financial and in-kind assistance for publishers.

A total 200,000 United Arab Emirates dirhams (US$52,452) is being halved into two grants.

The first is directed to support the next edition of the Beirut International Book Fair. The show is among the Arab world’s oldest, and the support from Sharjah will be targeted at logistical expenses for book business professionals’ participation.

The second grant is to be administered by a committee formed by the Book Authority to review submissions from publishers who have seen their sales impacted by cancellations of Arab region book fairs and exhibitions.

Lebanese publishers who would like to make a request for funding from the grant should contact the committee in Sharjah at grant@sibf.com

In addition, the Book Authority’s Sharjah Publishing City free zone development is offering Lebanese publishers interested in regional and international expansion an exemption on setup fees for a full year. The program makes 20 furnished offices available in the Publishing City complex for such publishers’ use.

Publishers interested in knowing more about this offer should contact Publishing City at info@spcfz.com

Bodour: ‘Publishers Are the Core of the Book Industry’

Commenting on the emirate’s efforts to support Lebanon’s publishers and libraries, Bodour—the founding publisher of the Kalimat Group who is also serving as vice-president of the International Publishers Association—is quoted, saying, “Supporting the Arab world’s publishing sector is one of our top priorities at the Sharjah World Book Capital Office, and a pillar on which the celebrations of the title began.

Bodour Al Qasimi

“Publishers are the core of the book industry, and providing support will reflect positively on our cultural movement and help attract more investment into the cultural sector locally and internationally.

“The support provided to Lebanese publishers affected by the Port of Beirut explosion is a continuation of efforts led by the Sharjah World Book Capital Office to help Arab and international publishers continue their operations and develop their products.

“The Lebanese publishing sector is considered one of the biggest and leading markets in the Middle East, and is going through exceptional circumstance that require cultural institutions and prominent figures to come together to overcome the challenges and transform them into new opportunities.”

Bodour will be participating in events during the Frankfurter Buchmesse digital program next week, including programming from the International Publishers Association‘s (IPA). Details of the IPA’s events are here.

Furnished office space at Sharjah Publishing City. Image: Sharjah Book Authority


More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing in Lebanon is here. More from us on Sharjah, its World Book Capital program and more initiatives in publishing is here. And more on Bodour Al Qasimi is here.

More 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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