The Arab book market is worth US$1 billion per annum, according to the Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, who was speaking at a panel session at the Sharjah International Book Fair this week. Some 650,000 people have visited the 35th edition of the eleven-day book fair during its first four days, with 1,681 publishing houses exhibiting across 25,0000 square metres (269,000 sq. ft.) of space.
One million people visited last year’s Sharjah International Book Fair, which takes place annually at Expo Centre Sharjah. According to the SBA, publishers at the book fair have already signed 145 deals to translate books from Arabic to other languages.
The event takes place during the UAE’s ‘Year of Reading 2016′, an initiative to launch a country-wide integrated national literacy strategy and a framework to produce a reading generation and establish the UAE as the capital of cultural and knowledge content. The UAE buys about US$230 million (AED 845m) of books each year.
Sharjah plans to open its purpose-built ‘Sharjah Publishing City’ in January 2017, involving between 140 and 180 international publishers, with the second phase of the development planned for April 2017 allowing up to 400 publishers. A two-storey building is currently being constructed on a 19,000 square metre (204,514 sq. ft.) plot on the Sharjah-Dubai road for the project. The facility will house publishers, distributors, printers, translators and associated businesses.
Meanwhile, Sharjah Media City Free Zone was established earlier this year by royal decree and is expected to begin issuing trade licenses to media ventures during the first quarter of 2017. The Free Zone’s mandate is to play a leading role in growing the emirate’s media and creative sectors, attracting entrepreneurs and startups and developing local talent. The new zone will have legal independence over licencing and media regulations, in addition to offering world-class infrastructure and tax-free status.
Sharjah has announced a wide range of initiatives during that past year to help grow the emirate’s knowledge economy, including numerous new programmes aimed at stimulating entrepreneurship and the development of a Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI) Park, to be run by the American University of Sharjah.
Source: SBA, media
Image credit: WAM