Emirates Publishers Association at London Book Fair: Seven Presses Ready for Rights Meetings

In Feature Articles by Publishing Perspectives Staff

The Emirates Publishers Association’s member presses have had ‘hundreds of works translated into 27 languages,’ says Rashid Al Kous. (Sponsored)

The Emirates Publishers Association at London Book Fair April 18 to 20) will feature seven publishers on its stand with tables for book presentations and rights discussions. Image: EPA

Publishing Perspectives Staff Report

Now Being Booked: One-on-One Rights Meetings
With a goal of showcasing the diversity and breadth of Emirati literature and publishing, the Emirates Publishers Association will feature seven publishers on its collective stand at London Book Fair next week. Trade visitors will find the association’s stand at 7D20 in the National Hall at Olympia London.

Those who are presenting books, themselves, at the trade show will be interested to know that the association reports it’s “actively seeking out international titles and acquiring licenses to translate them from English to Arabic and vice-versa. By doing so, we are providing a platform for international publishers to access our bestselling titles through London Book Fair and offer them to their audiences.”

Through its partnerships with publishers from many parts of the world, the association and its member-publishers want to introduce their stories to new audiences and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for Emirati literature. “We invite publishers from all corners of the world,” the association says, “to come to our stand and collaborate with us in building long-lasting partnerships.”

Positioning strong publishers and their lists on its stand in London is one of the association’s key services. The space on the stand is provided free of charge to its publishers at international book fairs, and the program also facilitates marketing efforts for these events. The publishers participating pay their own travel and accommodations expenses.

The publishers holding meetings with rights directors, agents, publishers, editors, and others in London this year are:

  • The Dreamwork Collective: An independent publishing house committed to sharing diverse voices and powerful stories from the region with the world.
  • Kalimat: A publisher house specialized in publishing Arabic books for children and the youth, offering books aimed at educating Arab children about Arab and international culture and their modern challenges in collaboration with award-winning writers and illustrators worldwide. (Our coverage of the work of Kalimat and Emirates Publishers Association founder Bodour Al Qasimi is here.)
  • Liberty Education: A publishing house with a focus on Educational Products and children’s books, targeting Ministries of Education, Schools in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe through publishing English and Arabic schemes.
  • Smart Mind: An Emirati publishing house that aims to show the culture of reading and plant the seed of development in the hearts of readers to build a generation whose foundations are science and knowledge.
  • Ugarit Publishing: An educational publisher that specializes in early childhood education, publishing high-quality, curriculum-based resources.
  • Al Muheet Publishing: An Emirati publishing house with a focus on literary and science books for children. Their mission is to spread culture, enrich education, and publish educational books with a purpose.
  • Dubai’s Sail Publishing: A 13-year-old Emirati company featuring children’s books, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in both Arabic and English. (Our interview with Sail CEO Iman Ben Chaibah is here.)

Below, we have more in-depth information on several of these publishing houses. For inquiries, or to schedule a match-making meeting with any publishers on the Emirates Publishers Association stand, contact Fatima AlNabouda f.alnabouda@epa.org.ae  or AlAnoud Ali alanoud.a@epa.org.ae .

In addition to trading tables and the presentations and meetings with these featured houses, the stand will feature a display of 49 titles from 23 member-publishers. A QR code will offer an English précis about each book along with contact information so that trade visitors can follow up with the pertinent houses on rights inquiries.

At the Emirates Publishers Association stand at this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March. Image: EPA

EPA’s Rashid Al Kous: ‘Meet the Emirati Publisher’

Rashid Al Kous, executive director of the Emirates Publishers Association, says that the organization has grown not only in its membership roster but also in the level of literature its member-publishers are producing.

Rashid Al Kous

Since our inception in 2009 with just 13 publishers,” he says, “we’ve grown exponentially, boasting an impressive membership of 289. The quality of our members’ books has also grown tremendously, with exposure to international practices leading to expanding their reach in the global market. Additionally, when we first started, the representation of women in the publishing industry was disappointingly low. However, we’ve since made strides in closing the gender gap, with 24 percent of our members being Emirati women, a number we are committed to continuously increasing.

“We’re proud to have facilitated the growth of our members, enabling them to seize new opportunities and diversify their pool of content and titles, ultimately increasing their accessibility to international markets.”

In an interesting counterpoint to the puns that many try to incorporate into slogans, Al Kous says that the association’s straightforward “Meet the Emirati Publisher” line has served the group well, welcoming those who enjoy face-to-face interaction with their UAE publishing counterparts for rights trading meetings.

We’re thrilled to take part in 19 local, regional, and international book fairs this year,” he says, “giving our publishers exceptional opportunities to present their work and interact with various audiences–and encouraging international publishers to engage with our community and cultivate new partnerships that would support the growth and diversity of our industry.”

“We made a concerted effort this year to provide a platform to those who hadn’t yet had the opportunity to showcase their works on the global stage.”Rashid Al Kous, Emirates Publishers Association

And those rights meetings have paid off. The association’s member-publishers, he says, have seen “hundreds of works translated into 27 languages” to date.

Another interesting point that trade visitors will note is that the stand’s featured publishers are heavily engaged in children’s books. “We made a concerted effort this year to provide a platform to those who hadn’t yet had the opportunity to showcase their works on the global stage. Interestingly,” he says, “many of these publishers specialize  in children’s books, reflecting a growing trend in the Emirati publishing industry.”

Al Kous says that 65 association member presses are dedicated to producing children’s books, while 80 of the EPA’s publishers are in general books, may include a variety of work for  young readers.

“This commitment to nurturing young minds and fostering a love of reading,” he says, “is at the heart of our mission. We’re proud to support our members as they continue to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation in childrens literature.”

In terms of challenges faced by Emirati publishers today, Al Kous says that many of them relate to how young publishing is in the 52-year-old United Arab Emirates. “There’s much to learn for both ourselves and our publishers,” he says. “Constant economic changes have significantly affected our publishers, too, with rising shipping and paper costs being examples of the hurdles they face.

“Despite these challenges, we remain committed to empowering our members and supporting the growth of a thriving and sustainable publishing industry in the UAE.”

A one-on-one demonstration of digital reading content at the Emirates Publishers Association’s stand. Image: EPA

Snapshots of Three Publishers on the EPA’s London Stand

Kalimat refers to itself as the flagship initiative of the Kalimat Group, which specializes in publishing Arabic books for children and young adults.

The house offers a wide range of books to educate Arab children about Arab and international culture and modern challenges through collaborations with award-winning writers and illustrators from around the world. Kalimat has published more than 250 books for children and young adults, many of which have been translated into different languages and have won awards in the Arab region and internationally. The publishing house won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Best Publisher in 2017.

  • Founded: 2005
  • Sectors: Children’s books–fiction, nonfiction, and educational); young adult (YA) books; comics; and adult books (fiction and nonfiction).
  • Titles published annually: 60
  • Target audience in the region? Arabic readers all age groups
  • Main challenge in reaching the company’s potential audience: “Currently, our primary obstacle to reaching target audiences is the impact of inflation on purchasing power. People are less likely to spend money on books. Inflation also contributes to the rising cost of producing and distributing printed material, which can result in higher consumer prices.” 
  • Main objective in rights sales at London Book Fair: “As an organization, our focus is primarily on selling rights and promoting our authors’ works to a global audience. However, we also remain open to the possibility of acquiring and buying rights for exceptional literary works that align with our mission and goals.”
  • First time at London Book Fair? No

Dar Al Muheet has demonstrated a strong interest in promoting both literary books–with rich, narrative insights into the human experience–and science books that describe the natural world and humans’ place in it.

  • Founded: 2020
  • Sectors: Heritage, scientific, literary, children’s literature, picture books, and travel literature
  • Titles published annually: 45
  • Target audience in the region? Children and adults
  • Main challenge in reaching the company’s potential audience: “We’re finding it challenging to stay current with advancements and changes in the publishing industry.”
  • Main objective in rights sales at London Book Fair: University and academic publishers
  • First time at London Book Fair? Yes

Smart Mind for Publishing and Distribution is an Emirati house which aims to instill a reading culture among young people.

  • Founded : 2018
  • Sectors: “We’re interested in publishing books on developing youth’s intellect, spirit, body, awareness, health, nutrition, psychology, and sociology. We also acquire publishing rights to non-Arabic and bestselling books related to community development, such as [the American developmental biologist] Bruce Lipton’s books, which we’ve translated and distributed in the Arab world.”
  • Titles published annually: A mix of 25 to 35 original and translated books
  • Target audience in the region: Everyone between ages 15 and 65
  • Main challenge in reaching the company’s potential audience: “The publishing sector is facing difficulties accessing international exhibitions because of visa restrictions, which has become a major challenge for the industry. The coronavirus COVID-19 crisis has further aggravated the issue, leading to the cancellation of many international exhibitions. Moreover, there is little international public support for promoting the culture of reading and encouraging young people to read.”
  • Main objective in rights sales at London Book Fair: “To renew contracts with British and American publishing houses with which we’ve previously had rights. This fair also allows us to conduct meetings with international publishing houses, universities, and research centers. We want to promote Arab literature by displaying some of our distinguished publications in Arabic. These titles are meant to introduce the culture and ideas of Arab literature to a broader audience. Furthermore, we’ll showcase a collection of distinguished books about the UAE’s leaders, highlighting their wisdom and cultural development. Among these books, One Hundred Pearls of Wisdom about Sheikh Zayed will be presented, a book that sheds light on the sheikh’s exceptional leadership and the contributions he made to the United Arab Emirates.”
  • First time at London Book Fair? Yes

At the Emirates Publishers Association stand at this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March. Image: EPA


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Emirates Publishers Association is here, more on the United Arab Emirates’ publishing market is here, more on London Book Fair is here, and more on rights and licensing in book publishing is here.

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