SPCFZ, EPA and publishers discuss industry challenges, opportunities - GulfToday

SPCFZ, EPA and publishers discuss industry challenges, opportunities


A panel discussion in progress. The event was organised by the Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone in partnership with Emirates Publishers Association.

The Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ) and the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) heard from over 30 local and international publishers about their key challenges, and discussed how these two vital entities are supporting UAE’s publishing industry can collaborate to overcome them and ensure that continued growth of this vital sector.

SPCFZ – the world’s first publishing and printing Free Zone and a subsidiary of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) – recently organised a panel discussion in partnership with the EPA to shine light on the issue. Talks were led by Salim Omar Salim, Director of SPCFZ and Rashed Al Kous, Executive Director, EPA.

In a detailed presentation by Salim Omar Salim, publishers learnt about SPCFZ’s state-of-the-art facilities and services, including an advanced infrastructure, customisable office spaces, print on demand facilities, storage and warehousing, business licensing and registrations for new companies, subsidiaries and regional branches of international companies, and several more.

The SPFCZ director emphasised on the fact that they are working concertedly and closely with major entities in the UAE, which represent publishing and larger cultural sectors, to establish a fully-integrated ecosystem in which publishing businesses can establish themselves with the least amount obstacles, grow and thrive. This gathering he said, and all other efforts by Sharjah as a whole, are being made to further the role of education and culture in national development.

“The discussion of challenges and solutions opens the way for publishers to explore new opportunities and collaborations, share successful experiences, and rally efforts to accelerate the publishing industry’s growth,” he added “We are working towards adding more services in future to facilitate the workings of publishing businesses in the UAE more comprehensively. We’ve also showcased our plan to forge new strategic agreements with several government departments to support publishing professionals and the book industry, which the UAE’s publishing community is now looking forward to,” Salim concluded.

Rashid Al Kous highlighted the importance of the transparent dialogue between local publishers, especially those based in SPCFZ. He said this would be a great source of information for the Free Zone officials and help them stay up to date about the various challenges publishers face in their daily operations, and devise more effective solutions.

Participating publishers pointed out that the book industry market is not stable, witnessing many challenges and fluctuations. At the same time they emphasised on the need for an ongoing dialogue with EPA and SPCFZ to deliver positive outcomes for the UAE’s book industry – both in terms of improving the quality of products and increasing revenues regionally and globally.

The meeting brought together a large number of publishing houses and publishing companies, who are concerned with the book industry, who pointed to the importance of the ongoing dialogue between Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone, the Emirates Publishers Association and the publishers, where they assured it is positively reflected in the book industry, in terms of improving the quality of products, and the growing of the publishing market both locally and globally.

Highlighting the importance of constructive dialogue, Fatima Al Tamimi, Owner of Awrqa Publishing house said the panel discussion was very informative and helped her learn about the services and offerings at SPCFZ in great detail.

Ashraf Shaheen, Director General of Al Borj Media Publishing & Distribution, said the dialogue with the several other members of the UAE publishing community was a great way to explore new mechanisms for cooperation. He praised the transparency demonstrated by everyone and pointed out that such dialogues would bring different views closer and enhance cooperation between local, Arab and international publishing houses in the UAE.

Jade Robertson, International Publishing Director, Austin Macauley Publishers, stressed the importance of panel discussions in addressing the biggest challenges facing publishers in the region, and also highlighting the positive changes being experienced by the industry. He revealed that the UK-based publisher started their regional operations out of SPCFZ a couple of years ago, and praised the Free Zone’s support to them including several opportunities to benefit from the EPA’s leading initiatives, and expand further into Arab markets.

It may be mentioned that Sharjah houses Sharjah Publishing City – an exclusive free zone for printing and publishing. Being one of a kind in the world, Sharjah Publishing City free zone is one of the most attractive destinations for all the publishers and book lovers. It provides good warehousing and office space facilities for business owners.

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