Abu Dhabi Book Fair: ‘Shutting Down’ Copyright Violators

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

As Sheikh bin Zayed allocates millions of dirhams for books at Abu Dhabi’s fair, the show announces action against copyright violators.

On the exhibition floor of the 2022 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, May 23. Image: Publishing Perspectives: Porter Anderson

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

See: Sheikh Zayed Book Award Honors Its 2022 Laureates and Abu Dhabi: Rakuten Kobo’s Michael Tamblyn Announces Arabic as a Primary Language

Al Tunaiji: ‘A Culture of Enlightenment’
Organizers of the ongoing Abu Dhabi International Book Fair have informed the news media that they have “shut down two publishing houses after finding they had violated intellectual property rights and participation conditions.”

The show, which runs through Sunday (May 29),  is produced by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC). It’s the center’s acting executive director, Saeed Hamdan Al Tunaiji, who is quoted in media messaging announcing the action.

Al Tunaiji says, “For more than three decades, Abu Dhabi International Book Fair has established itself as an incubator for creativity and innovation, cultivating a global reputation as a platform that attracts thousands of Arab and international publishers to support and advance the publishing industry in the region.

“The Arabic Language Centre continues to uphold the United Arab Emirates’ laws by holding a committee to monitor publication violations.”

It’s presumably this committee, then, that has detected some sort of infractions relative to copyright and/or procedural regulations about participating in the current book fair.

Saeed Hamdan Al Tunaiji

Al Tunaiji’s offices add that the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is “devoted to fostering a culture of enlightenment that avoids any counterfeiting or infringement of intellectual property.”

There are no further details offered in the message to the news media at this point. Publishing Perspectives has asked for more information and will update with it, should it be made available.

Speculation is incorrect in an instance in which so little is known, but what’s well known is that the region—as in many parts of world publishing—has long been wrestling with book piracy. The topic comes up quite frequently in discussions of the literary arts and industries in the Arab world. It’s possible, then—although we have no confirmation of this, that something related to pirated content is involved.

It’s also unclear what the phrase “shut down” means in this instance. Are the two companies reported to have been involved in some sort of rights infringement and/or “participation conditions” simply being barred from the book fair or from operation at all?

Now in its 31st iteration, the Abu Dhabi fair is a very large one this year, embracing a reported 73,000 meters of floor space in the cavernous Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. While reports have varied, it appears that the number of exhibitors at the show this year lies between 1,000 and 1,100, and the show is visually imposing–its major stands are, as usual, fronting the L-shaped show floor, with blocks and blocks of small independent-press booths behind them.

There’s a robust tone on the show floor, steady footfall during each day of the shows long opening hours, and in the many special events being staged at the fair. Legions of youngsters are on-hand, many as part of school outings to the show, and families, which visit the show in the evenings after work.

Sheikh Bin Zayed: 6 Million Dirhams for Book Buys

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, left, applauds a winner of the Sheik Zayed Book Award on March 24 at Louvre Abu Dhabi. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

There also is news from Abu Dhabi of a special allocation for the purchase of books by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates.

To assist an industry at many points staggered by the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Al Nahyan has issued directives to allocate a 6 million-dirham grant (US$1.6) to purchase a selection of books and reference and educational materials from the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. As in the case of similar gestures of industry support from Sheikh Sultan of the neighboring emirate, Sharjah, this kind of support can be crucial because publishers in the Arab world are heavily reliant on sales at book fair—which have been closed or operating only at partial levels since the onslaught of the virus’ outbreaks.

In a comment of appreciation for Al Nahyan’s grant, Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, who leads the Arabic Language Centre and is secretary-general of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, is quoted, saying, “This generous grant offers a strong foundation to continue our efforts to keep the local and Arab publishing market globally competitive.

“It will also play an effective role in advancing knowledge and culture in the United Arab Emirates, providing students with a wide variety of books and reference materials from the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

“Through this, the next generation’s increased accessibility to content will inspire their enthusiasm for knowledge and learning, while enhancing their imagination, innovation and creativity.”


Our special Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2022 Show Magazine is here for your free download (PDF).

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is here, and more on the United Arab Emirates’ market is here. More from us on book fairs and trade shows in world publishing is here. More on translation is here, and more on Arabic in the publishing world is here

More from us on copyright and its protection is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and the International Publishers Association. Our extended coverage of ADIBF 2022 is supported by the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.