By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘An Integrated and Dynamic Roadmap’As many Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, a board of directors was added in mid-May to the governance of the Sharjah Book Authority, with Bodour Al Qasimi as chair and Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri as CEO.
Within the past week, Al Qasimi brought together the United Arab Emirates-based department leads for a first internal meeting to assess “achievements, challenges, and opportunities.” She and Al Ameri spoke before she led the meeting.
While this was not classified as a meeting of the board, the intent of that board’s formation, the authority’s readout from the meeting says, is to “chart the course for the future; create an integrated and dynamic roadmap for each of the authority’s functions; streamline their efforts; and propel them toward an even more relevant and influential role in promoting publishing, creative industries, and libraries.”
What makes this first internal meeting significant is that it helps clarify the book authority’s evolution into an organizing parent company for the many programs that have been promulgated over the decades of the Sharjah leadership’s cultural focus.
In fulfillment of Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi‘s concept of Sharjah as a “reading emirate,” many disparate programs and initiatives have been created, some of them with long-term traction and usefulness.
‘Putting People and Knowledge First’
If not an embarrassment of riches, Sharjah’s array of literature- and publishing-related programs and initiatives is complex and demanding.
Al Qasimi’s own programs since her founding of the book-publishing Kalimat Group and its associated Kalimat Foundation (for refugee support and reading accessibility for children) have included her leadership of the still-functioning Sharjah World Book Capital program in association with UNESCO; the international PublisHer network for women in the industry; in-country programs such as the Knowledge Without Borders “1,001 Titles” promotion of Arabic books, and the creation of the Emirates Publishers Association and the UAE’s first reprographic rights agency. In her work as the immediate past president of the International Publishers Association (IPA), Al Qasimi was herself the initiator of such programs as the organization’s Africa Publishing Innovation Fund with Dubai Cares. Since her term as IPA president, Al Qasimi has taken on the presidency of the American University of Sharjah.
Already vested under the Sharjah Book Authority’s purview are the flagship Sharjah International Book Fair (November 1 to 12) and its associated Sharjah Publishers Conference and rights-trading program. Its more recently developed Sharjah Booksellers Conference has had two strong initial outings to date, and its Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (which this year included an animation conference) is a long-running tradition. Then there’s the emirate’s production of guest-of-honor programs at various world publishing trade shows and book fairs; its Africa Rights Forum and African Literature Book Award; the Sharjah Award for Library Literature; its coordination with the international Big Bad Wolf Books program in the UAE; and several other initiatives.
In starting to put together with Al Ameri the next chapter of the Sharjah Book Authority’s oversight, Bodour told the group, “Sharjah’s role in nurturing and empowering this sector for 50 years has drawn the world’s gaze, and we have a responsibility to continue this cultural leadership, putting people and knowledge first.
“Sharjah Book Authority’s contributions,” she said, “will be pivotal in achieving our goals. We’ve hosted the world’s largest book fair in terms of buying and selling of copyrights, developed pioneering business solutions, and created literary initiatives to champion authors, publishers, literary agents, media professionals, and booksellers worldwide, but this is just the beginning.
“With the resolute support and backing of the board, together we’ll keep beating the path to build Sharjah into a global beacon of knowledge, creativity, and innovation, and I look forward to working collaboratively with all the department heads of Sharjah Book Authority and its affiliates to see this vision come to life.”
The meeting concluded with a tour of Ingram Content Group’s Lightning Source Sharjah print-on-demand facility at Sharjah Publishing City (another Sharjah Book Authority program), the installation of which has been followed by Publishing Perspectives’ professional readership.
More announcements about the book authority’s programming are anticipated.
More from Publishing Perspectives on the Sharjah Book Authority is here, more on Sharjah overall is here, more on the work of Bodour Al Qasimi is here, and more on the book publishing industry in the United Arab Emirates is here.
Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s world media partner.