Sharjah: Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) has presented a vivid picture of Sharjah’s and the UAE’s leading strategies and innovations in advancing the children’s book industry to participants of Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2023.
At the SBA pavilion, the publications of several local cultural entities as well as publishers, including Al Qasimi Publications, the Department of Culture in Sharjah, Arab Children’s Book Publisher Forum, the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), and Kalimat Group, offered a large number of visitors key insights into their integrated efforts to promote children’s publishing as well as readership, locally and worldwide. Italian and international cultural representatives explored this rich collection including translated titles while also being introduced to the Arab and Emirati culture.
Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA headed the delegation, and engaged in key meetings and discussions with book fairs officials, publishing associations and institutions. He met with Karine Pansa, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and held a meeting with Nihar Malaviya, CEO of Penguin Random House. He also met with adviser and former CEO of Penguin Random House, Markus Dohle.
The SBA Chairman noted: “Participating in this book fair, which celebrated Sharjah as Guest of Honour in the very recent past, further propels the emirate’s cultural project, founded by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to build cultural bridges around the world”.
“SBA is particularly keen on participating in international events focused on instilling a culture of reading among children, as this aligns with our efforts to develop the children’s and YA literature. Children’s book fairs offer an important platform for industry stakeholders with fresh opportunities to produce innovative content that young readers would relate to and actively engage with. Through the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), for instance, SBA has amassed key learning on the growing importance of children’s book fairs. Each year, we strive to bring more publishers and authors into SCRF’s fold so they can benefit from the myriad opportunities it provides to content makers,” he added.
SBA took the opportunity to highlight preparations for the upcoming 14th annual edition of the SCRF, alongside offering a comprehensive overview of the robust avenues and unique prospects it offers to those working in the children’s books industry, like the Arab Children’s Book Publisher Forum initiatives, and others.
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The authority highlighted the emirate’s advanced infrastructure and the opportunities it provides for the creative industries through global platforms like the Sharjah International Book Fair, and educated participants about significant events like the Publishers Conference it hosts to present new opportunities for translation projects and cultural exchange. SBA also highlighted the advanced infrastructure and tax-free incentives offered by Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone to publishers worldwide, in addition to protecting copyright through the Sharjah International Literature Agency.
For his part, Mansour Al Hassani, Director of Publisher Services at SBA, said: “We discussed emerging opportunities offered by SBA to publishers and book distributors we met in Bologna, and analysed ways we can strengthen collaboration and develop effective mechanisms to address challenges and advance the publishing industry. We also focused on attracting the largest possible number of participants to attend the Sharjah Book Sellers Conference, Publishers Conference, and other events designed by SBA to serve and promote this vital sector.”
Sharjah participated in the 59th edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair last year as the Guest of Honour. It organised a comprehensive cultural programme, including panel discussions, art workshops for children’s book illustrators, and an exhibition of children’s book illustrations by Emirati artists.