During its participation in the 46th edition of the London Book Fair, the management of the ‘1001 Titles’ initiative has announced that it has reached 60% of its target to launch 1,001 Emirati Arabic books in two years, keeping it on track for a regional publishing milestone.
Majd Al Shehhi, Manager of ‘1001 Titles’, highlighted the idea behind initiating 1001 titles to an audience of authors and publishers. The highly ambitious initiative came about following a study ordered by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), which showed the number of titles published by Emirati publishing houses was decreasing every year.
The first-of-its-kind initiative in the region lists its key objectives as supporting UAE-based Arab publishing houses in general and Emirati publishing houses in particular, increasing the number and improving the quality of Emirati publications, enriching the local cultural sphere, supporting Emirati Publishers and offering new horizons to publishers. The objectives also include providing financial support to ensure the sustainability for small local publishing houses, encouraging talented Emirati scholars to publish their works and researches, and helping Emirati publications to increase their chances of winning Arab and international awards.
Replying to a question about the conditions and criteria of participation, Al Shehhi said: “Books should be written in standard Arabic, but translated titles from other languages into Arabic can also participate as long as their sources are reliable and are translated under the supervision of accredited and reliable translation centres. The books should also be first edition, provide up-to-date information, conforming to Islamic values and Arab culture, and appealing to readers. Finally, applicants should be based in UAE.”
Al Shehhi pointed out that the key advantages for publishers who participate in the ‘1001 Titles’ initiative include exemption from the International Standard Book Number fees for printed books. The participating books will also be promoted in many local and international book fairs and cultural festivals.
The Manager of ‘1001 Titles’ also described the publishing industry, in line with Sheikha Bodour’s reference at the Dubai International Publishing Conference, as one of the most important creative industries, given its ability to develop the country’s national economy and cultural legacy. The publishing industry in the UAE is growing rapidly, as the value of books commercial activity tripled between 2000 and 2015.
Al Shehhi emphasised that statistics indicate that the publishing sector in the UAE will grow further in the future. The number of the personnel is predicted to rise from 4,700 to 12,000 by 2030, while the publishing industry’s market value is estimated to be as much as AED 700 million in 2030. The publishing industry will contribute to raising awareness, knowledge and cross-cultural understanding.
Al Shehhi concluded the session by highlighting the importance of providing authors and publishers with opportunities to exhibit their titles internationally in different cultural platforms, as well as to sell their publishing rights to publishing houses in other countries.