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New Delhi: Over 250 Indian publishers, authors and literary agents in New Delhi have learnt about the business opportunities and services of Sharjah Publishing City (SPC), the world’s first publishing and printing free zone.

On the sidelines of its participation at the 27th New Delhi World Book Fair, SPC on Saturday hosted a networking dinner for numerous Indian and India-based foreign publishing and printing businesses.

SPC brought together Indian publishing professionals, Emirati authors and poets, and senior officials from both nations to highlight the business opportunities in the UAE’s and Arab region’s expanding publishing industry.

Ahmad Al Ameri, chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), said: “This gathering representing not just publishing professionals, but top Indian dignitaries and VIPs, young bloggers and social media influencers, and others is a prefect manifestation of the diversity and interdependence that feed the growth and exchange of culture and knowledge, globally. Multiplicity of opinion and inclusivity are pivotal to the success of our business, and meeting our overarching goal of creating tolerant, progressive societies.”

Also, a folk performance by an Emirati band preceded a presentation by SPC Director Salim Omar Salim on investment opportunities in the UAE and the region, which can be leveraged by publishers in India and the subcontinent through SPC.

Salim said: “The UAE is a global hub for doing business — and the first in the Arab world. It ranks 17th in global competitiveness — a ranking which is justified partly by 25 per cent of the national GDP characterised by inward foreign direct investments.”

He added: “The UAE imports books and other publishing goods worth $126 million on an average, of which India’s share is currently approximately $10 million. This means there is a lot more untapped potential in our publishing market that Indian publishers can explore and benefit from. With 100 per cent foreign ownership, and profit repatriation, zero currency restrictions, tax free business dealings, fully-furnished ready office spaces for rent, print-on-demand and offset printing facilities, global connectivity, and more such advantages in the offering by SPC, your commercial aspirations can be turned into reality.”

Salim also said that SPC has introduced for the first time in the UAE a ‘dual business license’, which simply means that businesses operating within the free zone as well as on UAE mainland.