His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has officially inaugurated Sharjah Publishing City (SPC) at an opening event attended by hundreds of government officials, publishers, authors, journalists other distinguished guests. The first free zone of its type in the world, the new world-class facility provides a tax-free environment for global publishers, distributors, printers, translators and associated businesses at the centre of an Arab book market estimated to be worth US$1 billion per annum.
According to Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), SPC can accommodate 550 companies and has already received applications from more than 150 organisations from across the publishing sector, including translation agencies, literary and linguistic editing offices and graphic design companies.
Covering an area of 40,000 square metres (430,560 sq. ft.), Sharjah Publishing City provides 300 furnished offices and 6,000 square metres of space for investors that plan to create their own spaces. SPC houses more than 20 conference rooms, stores, service facilities and a data centre. Further stages of the project are expected to increase the free zone’s capacity to print a million books per day.
Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Sharjah Publishing City has a dedicated office to expedite licencing, with the issuance of business licences taking less than 24 hours. An array of other services have been made available onsite to support free zone tenants, including a public administration branch of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. SPC is strategically located close to Sharjah International Airport and near Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, a highway that connects Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah with the northern emirates.
The opening of Sharjah Publishing City took place in advance of the annual, 11 day Sharjah International Book Fair, which begins on Wednesday 1 November. Last year’s fair hosted 1,681 publishing houses from 60 countries with approximately 1.5 million titles on display and was visited by more than 2.31 million people. According to the organisers, an estimated AED 176 million (US$ 48.2m) worth of book sales were conducted at the fair.
During the inauguration, the Ruler also witnessed the signing of two agreements by the SBA. The first, agrees the establishment of the Arab Writers Union (AWU) at Sharjah Publishing City and the second agreement, signed with the Emirates Writers Union (EWA), provides for the translation of the works of 40 Emirati union authors from Arabic into English, French and Brazilian Portuguese.
Earlier this year, Sharjah was recently named ‘World Book Capital 2019’ by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Sharjah’s World Book Capital programme will officially begin on 23 April 2019, the United Nations World Book and Copyright Day, under the theme of ‘Read – You are in Sharjah’.
(photo credit: Emirates News Agency)