L TO R Noura Al Noman, Jamal Al Shehhi, Isobel Belhol and Sultan Al Amimi talking about Publishing Iidustry in the UAE and Current Challenges during the Sharjah Book Fair at Sharjah Expo on 3rd NOV 2016 Photo:Atiq-ur-Rehman/Gulf News Image Credit:

Sharjah: The UAE does not censor any book entering book fairs in the country but “certain lines are not to be crossed”, a senior National Media Council (NMC) official said during a Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) session on Thursday.

Juma Al Leem, director of the NMC office in Dubai, said: “In the UAE, we never prohibit books in any book fair. We give our remarks or comments only about the book.”

His comments came during the question and answer session of a panel discussion on Publishing Industry in the UAE and Current Challenges. The event was organised by NMC.

Responding to a question from the audience about NMC practices, Al Leem added that while there is also no censorship in general terms in the UAE, every country has a red line for content. He said the US, for example, blocks books deemed to be a national security threat.

“Certain lines are not to be crossed… We don’t support [books that promote] terrorism, and so on.”

However, he added, certain types of books will continue to be referred by the NMC to relevant UAE ministries before a final approval is granted. For example, a medical publication awaiting the green light from the NMC is sent by the NMC to the Ministry of Health and Prevention so specialists can assess the content, Al Leem said.

“We concentrate on quality. We don’t permit every book… We don’t want false facts,” he added. Al Leem said the NMC has its own “highly qualified and specialised” staff to assess works of literature and various other genres, besides t referrals to third-party entities on technical subjects. He pointed out that each licence for a work to be published in the UAE has its own terms and conditions. He added that even though the NMC supports even children writing books, in certain cases a minimum of a high-school certificate is required to allow the licence to go ahead.

Al Leem said a framework for online publications is being governed by the new Federal Law No 11/2016, which entrusts the NMC — a federal government body affiliated to the UAE Cabinet — to oversee and undertake the media affairs of the UAE.

“We want to support writers, even those who are children… We are not using our power against writers. The new law on competencies is now effective and we will reveal more details. We also rely on the feedback from people.”

Al Leem’s comments followed a wide-ranging discussion by the session’s panellists, who were Isobel Abulhoul, director of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature; Jamal Al Shehhi, general manager of Dar Al Kuttab publishing house; and Sultan Al Amimi, manager of Arab Poetry Academy.


Friday’s highlights

Session: Mohan Lal – Cinema & Life

Time: 4.15pm-5pm

Place: Literature Forum

A Life story of well-known film actor of India

Led by K. Suresh

Organiser: Sharjah Book Authority


Session: Bourne to Thrill: Books to Hollywood film adaptations

Time: 6pm-7pm

Place: Literature Forum

By Eric Van Lustbader, author of 10 Jason Bourne books. Moderated by Karen Robinson, supplements editor of The Sunday Times, Eric will discuss the Bourne series and why this character has captured the imagination of so many on the page and on the screen

Organiser: Sharjah Book Authority


What: Sharjah International Book Fair

Where: Expo Centre Sharjah

When: November 2-12

Entry free to all