Abu Dhabi’s Congress of Arabic Publishing: Expanding in 2024

In Feature Articles by Hannah Johnson

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim describes how Abu Dhabi’s two-year-old Congress of Arabic Publishing supports the creation of more Arabic-language content—online, in film, and in print. (Sponsored)

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim opens the 2023 International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries. Image: Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre

By Hannah Johnson | @HannahSJohnson

Bin Tamim: ‘Our Arab Heritage Is Rich With Heroes’ 
Having concluded the second edition of the International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries (called “Congress PCI” by its organizers) in May this year, organizers at the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) are looking expand the event in 2024—both for Arab-world and international participants.

The center’s chair, Dr. Ali Bin Tamim tells Publishing Perspectives that after having “solidified its position” among creative industry events and publishing, the Congress PCI team wants to  support creative-industry workers to meet the “growing demand for Arabic digital content.”

During onstage discussions in 2022 and 2023, Congress PCI speakers repeatedly cited a lack of Arabic-language content in digital formats as an obstacle for regional businesses and creative industries.

In a 2023 Congress session titled “AI and the Future of Publishing,” Rafid Fatani, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regional general manager of Amazon Alexa, told the audience that less than 1 percent of online content is in Arabic and that this has implications for emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

“We can build on this right now, or lose the opportunity,” he said. “I want my children to be able to use AI in their own language and for AI to benefit, multiply, and strengthen their ideas.”

While some might see this situation as a hindrance, plenty of others are seeing an opportunity for growth in the region. The 2023 Congress PCI in May launched an expo component that included exhibitor stands from regional and international companies including Image Nation, Tamatem, and Amazon.

In our interview with Bin Tamim, he made it clear that he and his team at the Arabic Language Centre are constantly looking for more ways to “promote Arabic creativity on a global scale” and to “foster effective partnerships both within the Arab world and internationally.”

A Congress PCI 2023 session, “AI and the Future of Publishing,” with Rafid Fatani, Middle East and North Africa regional general manager of Amazon Alexa (left); and Mo Gawdat, AI Expert, author and former CBO of Google X. Image: Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre

‘A Better Future for Publishing and Creative Industries’

Publishing Perspectives: Do you have a date set for the 2024 event so people can mark their calendars?

Bin Tamim: The third International Congress on Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries will take place on April 28, 2024—the day before the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair opens.

We will announce the opening of our congress registration at the Frankfurt Book Fair, during our panel discussion “Exploring Publishing Opportunities in the Arabic Market.” It takes place on October 18, 10:00 am, at the fair’s International Stage (located in the foyer between Halls 5.1 and 6.1).

We extend an invitation to all those interested and involved in creative industries and Arabic publishing worldwide to participate in this event and contribute to a better future for publishing and creative industries at both regional and global levels.

Publishing Perspectives: What inspired you and your team to launch the International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries, and how has it evolved since its inception in 2022?

Bin Tamim: One of the main strategic goals of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre is to establish Abu Dhabi as a global cultural hub, contribute to the empowerment of the Arabic language in all fields, and to support creativity, authorship, translation, and publishing.

The International Congress on Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries embodies these goals. It serves as a platform that brings together key figures and influencers from the creative industries and publishing sectors on local, regional, and global levels.

The congress has solidified its position on the publishing and creative industries agenda.

In its first edition, we hosted more than 380 participants and featured 35 speakers from various creative sectors, including publishing, the film industry, visual broadcasting, digital gaming, and social media. Building on that success, the second congress in 2023 expanded to two days, with the participation of 606 attendees and 30 speakers. It also included professional workshops and an exhibition area.

The congress also benefits from its association with another significant international event, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Publishing Perspectives: What kind of feedback have you received from attendees so far? Is the Congress generating new contacts and business deals for the people who participate?

Bin Tamim: We can confidently describe the comments and feedback on the congress as excellent. A remarkable 89 percent of attendees expressed a desire to participate in future events. A customer-satisfaction survey showed a satisfaction rate of 96 percent with the overall event and 93 percent with the content and topics we covered.

In addition, around 13 percent of participants said they successfully initiated business deals as a result of attending the congress. And with around 16 percent of attendees coming from Europe, America, and East Asia, we’re seeing stronger interest from international publishing and cultural industry leaders.

Publishing Perspectives: In 2023, the Congress introduced an expo component for companies to present themselves. Can you tell us about some of the companies that participated in the expo and what kind of business they did?

Bin Tamim: Our new exhibition area included prominent regional and global brands, including Tamatem, focused on electronic gaming; Majara, providing Arabic content services on the Internet; Image Nation, an Emirati company specializing in films and award-winning entertainment content; and the global technology giant Amazon.

Publishing Perspectives: Which messages from the 2023 congress program particularly stood out to you and why?

Bin Tamim: Investing in imagination and creative industries is the best way to enrich the balance between tradition and modernity. The United Arab Emirates, with its towering modern structures built on authentic foundations, represents the model the UAE has offered to the world since its inception.

As someone who hails from this experience—which is rooted in pride and awareness of heritage, history, values, and ethics—I’m deeply interested in those storytellers and creators who have based their contemporary work on their Arabic heritage. Our Arab heritage is rich with heroes who can nurture the spiritual and practical aspects of modern life. These creators have succeeded in transforming traditional elements into creative visual content, films, comics, digital games, and more.

Publishing Perspectives: What are your goals and aspirations for the congress in the coming years?

Bin Tamim: One key finding from the International Congress on Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries is the growing demand for Arabic digital content. While there’s a wide variety of content now available online, we’re aiming to support the publishing and creative content industry in the region, and to encourage the export of this content globally. Ultimately, we want to enhance the position of the Arabic language in the creative fields among world languages.

We also want the congress to establish itself as a professional networking platform for entrepreneurs in the publishing and creative industries—both within the Arab world and internationally.

In the lounge and exhibition area outside the International Congress on Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries auditorium, 2023. Image: Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre is here, more on the Abu Dhabi International Congress on Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries is here, more on publishing conference events in the world publishing industry is here, and more on publishing in the United Arab Emirates is here.

About the Author

Hannah Johnson

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Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.