The Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) has presented its recent study on the UAE’s publishing industry titled ‘Book Publishing in the United Arab Emirates’, which was commissioned by EPA in collaboration with renowned publishing experts Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting, during a discussion session that took place as part of the cultural programme of the Sharjah International Book Fair 2012.
The discussion was attended by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, EPA President, Noura Al Kaabi, twofour54’s CEO, Mohammed Al Shehhi, Publishing Manager at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and Rüdiger Wischenbart, Director of Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and consulting, an elite group of literary figures, intellectuals, authors and individuals interested in the publishing sector in the UAE.
Speaking at the session, Rüdiger Wischenbart, highlighted the tangible developments in the publishing industry in the UAE through the Sharjah and Abu Dhabi book fairs, which have achieved a major success and gained international recognition due to the growing number of leading publishing houses attending both fairs, especially the highly reputed publishers from Europe and the United States.
Commenting on the occasion, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi said, “Promoting the publishing sector and disseminating the UAE’s intellectual output throughout the Arab world and worldwide are given a top priority in the EPA’s strategic planning, which aims to improve the publishing industry in the UAE and represent UAE publishers at regional and international events, exhibitions, and seminars on publishing.”
She added, “After establishing EPA, we became aware that accurate and reliable facts and figures quantifying the reality of the publishing industry in the UAE were sorely lacking. This made it very difficult to get an accurate overview of the Emirate’s publishing sector, both in terms of its strengths, as well as the challenges that must be faced. It is for this reason that we decided to commission a comprehensive study covering all topics and issues related to publishing in the country.”
According to the study, the overall market worth of the Emirates’ publishing sector is currently estimated to be in the region of 260 million USD, with English imports dominating. Home-grown publishing is however growing rapidly with many newly formed local publishing companies focusing on producing publications centred on local content and aimed at local and regional audiences. Areas such as educational books in Arabic, practical information, heritage, and children’s books have shown excellent growth.
The study shows that book imports from Arab markets increased from 22,000 to 30,000 books in the period between 2009 and 2011, while books imported from the US achieved a robust, almost triple, growth in value, jumping from $19 million in 2005 to $47 million in 2011.
The United Kingdom came first in terms of English books imported by the UAE, followed by the US, although the growth rate of American book exports to the UAE is faster than that of the British – 116 per cent against 147 per cent during the period 2005 to 2011.