GN CEO at book fair in Mexico
Abdul Hamid Ahmad (left), CEO of Al Nisr Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of Gulf News, shared his insights during a panel discussion titled ‘Media: A Link Between the UAE and Mexico’ Image Credit: Supplied

Guadalajara: The CEO of Al Nisr Publishing and editor-in-chief of Gulf News, Abdul Hamid Ahmad, shed light on the role of media and creative industries in bringing the UAE and Mexico closer together during a panel discussion at the ongoing 36th Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico.

Ahmad noted several Mexican authors have appealed to Arab readers, such as Octavio Bath, Carlos Fuentes, and Juan Rulfo. He also expressed his appreciation to prominent Arab translators like the late Saleh Almani, who spared no efforts in bringing Spanish literature to Arabic audiences.

Ahmad shared his insights during the discussion titled ‘Media: A Link Between the UAE and Mexico’, where he was joined by Raed Barqawi, editor-in-chief of Arabic daily Al Khaleej; Edward Nawotka, co-founder of Publishers Weekly en Español; and Mónica Nepote, Director of the e-Literature Project at the Digital Culture Centre in Mexico. The panel was moderated by Zeth Arellano.

GN CEO at panel at FIL 2022 in Mexico
Bilateral trade, culture and publishing were also some of the topics of discussion during the session Image Credit: Supplied

Power of translation

Ahmad pointed out that even before the start of an ‘open skies’ policy between the UAE and Mexico, there was already a strong relationship between the two countries with the translations of Mexican literature. “Translations have played a significant role in bringing Mexican society and its cultural legacy closer to the people of the UAE,” he added.

He also noted that in the 1990s Arabs grew up watching a Venezuelan series about a gypsy girl’s journey from poverty to wealth. The same is being repeated today through platforms like Netflix.

UAE-Mexico Friendship Association

To boost cultural exchange, Ahmad called for the establishment of a UAE-Mexico Friendship Association to develop cultural relations between the two countries. He recommended launching an award for literary books translated from Arabic into Spanish and vice versa, pointing out that such practical steps can make a big difference in forging closer cultural ties.

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Trade relations

Meanwhile, Barqawi cited the impact of trade relations between the UAE and Mexico, pointing out trade was valued at $50 million just a decade ago, but with the growth of aviation and air traffic with daily direct flights, the value of trade exchange currently exceeds $3 billion.

He noted trade links have bolstered and developed close cultural relations between the two countries. He also said: “Mobility contributed to a true cultural exchange that was evident in language, music, art, and even cooking, among other forms of culture. This is what characterises the UAE today as it rose as a bustling trade centre which has paved the way for reinforcing cross-cultural communication with nations worldwide.”

Nawotka, for his part, talked about the experience of launching the Arabic and Spanish editions of the Publishers Weekly magazine.

He said: “When we sought to target Arabic speakers, we headed to Sharjah that hosted the launch of the Arabic edition. Interestingly enough, the idea of launching the Spanish edition was born at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) where we met with Mexican entities and the idea then took the form of the Mexican edition of the magazine.”

Sharjah is the Guest of Honour at the Mexican book fair that will run until December 4 in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, which is known as "The City of Roses".