Pakistan News & Features Services
Shaikha Budoor Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), who also heads the country’s Knowledge Without Borders project, remains extremely confident about accomplishing her cherished goals.
In a newspaper interview on the sidelines of the 31st Sharjah International Book Fair 2012, held at the Sharjah Expo Centre from November 7 to 17, she described achieving a knowledge-based economy as a part of the UAE’s ‘Vision 2021’ as one of four targets for the development of the country.
She spoke about the vision of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a knowledge-based economy, the growing book market, and the need to focus on the youth in her country where the growth of the publishing industry has been phenomenal.
“The UAE is a country that not only dreams big, but has had an astounding track record for turning those dreams into reality as anyone who has ever stood on the observation deck of the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa can tell you,” she observed.
“The overall market worth of the Emirates’ publishing sector is currently estimated to be in the region of $260 million (Dh955 million) and large numbers of the world’s major international bookstores, for instance Borders, Virgin, and Kinokuniya, can be found throughout the country,”
Shaikha Budoor pointed out. “Several literary festivals and fairs such as the Sharjah International Book Fair, the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, and the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature have also taken place across the country throughout the year making their mark on the international circuit,” she added.
Sharjah’s Knowledge Without Borders project, headed by Shaikha Budoor, has also witnessed the organisation reaching a milestone of bringing around 500,000 books to 10,000 families and is looking forward to achieving the ultimate goal of touching the lives of 42,000 families in Sharjah.
“My personal journey into publishing began with children’s books when, in 2007, I began searching for good quality Arabic books for my daughter who was then four,” she recalled.
Shaikha Budoor highlighted that it’s the wealth of well-educated and reasonably affluent readers, along with the UAE’s strategic location and established regional shipping nexus which plays an important role in promoting growth within the publishing sector.
“With all of these factors in play, the UAE has significant potential to become a hub for international leaders in publishing and distribution for the entire Middle East region, as well as a gateway between Europe, the Arab world, and South Asia,” reckoned, adding that in order to create a ‘knowledge based society,’ an important area of focus is the country’s youth.
Shaikha Budoor has also played a role in the establishment of the Emirates’ national chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) which aims to act as a bridge between all of the stakeholders in the arena of children’s books.