Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi
In these virus-hit times, any kind of care and help is welcome. This is what publishers not just in the UAE but other countries have warmed up to, thanks to the charitable nature of Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA).
Her all-out efforts to put the publishing industry, reeling under the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, back on its feet are praiseworthy.
She has pitched for monetary sustenance to keep the publishers going, so that knowledge emanating from the world of books does not suffer. About a year ago, she toured pandemic-hit publishing markets in African countries, whose national publishing industry has also been reeling from the ravages of COVID-19 in 2020.
Sheikha Bodour met local publishers and the leadership of IPA member the Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) as part of an IPA drive to boost the resilience and sustainability of publishing worldwide. Her presence was a morale-booster. To an industry derailed by the coronavirus, Sheikha Bodour, who is like a trustworthy anchor to the virus-hit, seemed to be sending a motivational message to the publishers: you have my support and I will do everything to see that you are back on the rails.
Her arrival in Kenya follows a trip to Egypt in early January to meet the Arab Publishers Association (APA) and the Egyptian Publishers Association (EPA), two more organisations that were deeply concerned about their industry’s post-COVID prospects.
She got down to action soon. On both occasions, Sheikha Bodour presented the IPA’s 2021 vision to develop strategies to return global publishing to full strength and enable it to continue making its vital contribution to education, social development and knowledge economies.
Addressing KPA officials and Kenyan publishers, the IPA President said: ‘The pandemic exposed some important underlying issues in the publishing world, and its impact continues to reverberate. This is why we are assembling a cross-sectoral task force comprising publishers, authors, illustrators, distributors, wholesalers, printers, and like-minded others. We will engage all stakeholders across the value chain and draw up a roadmap to help the book industry to be more resilient and move onwards and upwards, to everyone’s benefit.’
Surefire morale-boosters indeed. Sheikha Bodour knows what the publishers want.
Africa too had been hit and she knew it badly needed financial oxygen to keep it alive.
Sheikha Bodour has encouraged African publishers to apply for the third edition of the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF) – a four-year $800,000 grant programme co-led by the UAE-based global philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares and implemented by the IPA. “The APIF is a catalyst for a positive change in African publishing, literacy progress, and reading culture, and we are always on the lookout for homegrown solutions to some of the most persisting publishing challenges,” she says.
The IPA President also visited the Makadara and Kaloleni branches of Nairobi’s historic McMillan Memorial Library. Both buildings are being lovingly restored by the Book Bunk Trust thanks in part to a $50,000 APIF grant towards the Kaloleni project, which was completed in July 2020, and a separate donation from the Sharjah World Book Capital project for the Makadara work.
The Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) is marking its presence at the ongoing 53rd edition of the Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF) with 275 titles from 22 Emirati publishers, spanning a range of genres. Publishers are showcasing 2,415 books to businesses and visitors at EPA’s pavilion through the ‘Manassah’ platform, which offers exclusive privileges to EPA members. The latest Arabic and international titles on display at the fair until February 6 reflect the UAE’s vibrant cultural and creative landscape and are a testament to its flourishing publishing sector.