The first-ever International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries explores the latest trends in the publishing industry

Abu Dhabi, UAE – The first edition of the International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries was launched today as part of the 31st Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF 2022) at the National Exhibition Center in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi (ADNEC).

Organized by the Arabic Language Center Abu Dhabi (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the Congress highlighted current trends in the publishing and content in Arabic, while facilitating dialogue between stakeholders, thought leaders and entrepreneurs on their various creative platforms. It was an opportunity to explore the prospects for growth and development that different technologies can bring to content creation.

The Congress welcomed Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Association of Publishers (IPA), and Her Excellency Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, President of the ALC, as well as a host of Arab and international officials, publishers , experts and media representatives.

Special guest speaker, Sheikha Bodour, kicked off the event with a keynote speech, during which she said: “In recent years, the Arabic publishing industry has seen a series of internal debates that establish a new understanding of the central role that publishing plays and can play, not only in supporting cultural development, but also in supporting the overall development of the people of this region.

“This movement is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but it needs to be built on solid foundations so that we can establish a strong, resilient and sustainable Arabic publishing sector. A key factor in ensuring the long-term success of the publishing industry in any region of the world is the full commitment to respect for copyright and freedom to publish.

In his address, HE Bin Tamim said: “The International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries is a new chapter in the vision and legacy of the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to solidify Abu Dhabi’s position as a world cultural center. We strongly believe in the importance of the publishing and creative industries and the role they play in enhancing the presence of our Arabic language, emphasizing its aesthetics and defining characteristics, and emphasizing the impact it has on bringing our culture and our identity to the world.

“The International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries brings together the most eminent publishers and experts, marking an important step towards realizing this vision. Reflecting this commitment, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is building a sustainable cultural sector by investing AED30 billion as part of its strategy to support the cultural and creative industry and empower its key players around the world.

In a keynote titled “The 70-20-10 Model for Innovation in Publishing,” Ann Hiatt, the best-selling American author, Silicon Valley veteran, and investor, said: Developing publishing in an innovative way, protecting copyrights and policies. Publishing is hugely important to humanity and we have benefited from it throughout history, in the Middle East today there are many capabilities and an ambitious reality that heralds the transformation of ideas into knowledge about the ground. We must invest in all available opportunities and create content that showcases experiences and knowledge to be shared for the benefit of all people around the world.”

Hiatt emphasized that there is a need for transformation, to reach ambitious individuals who can navigate an environment of ambiguity and who have the desire to achieve greater success and innovation in various sectors. “The publishing industry should learn from its experiences and make decisions that support investment in the future and in the leaders of tomorrow.”

The first panel of the event, “Arabic publishing: where are we and where are we going?”, explored the main Arabic publishing markets, the most popular genres and their respective market shares. , the market share of digital books and the importance of imports to serve the Arab market. Moderated by Carlo Carrenho, publishing consultant, the session brought together Sherif Bakr, publisher at Al Arabi Publishing and Distributing; Shereen Kreidieh, Managing Director of Asala Publishing House; Stefanie Lamprinidi, regional content expansion manager for Storytel; and Rüediger Wischenbart, president and founder of Content and Consulting.

During the discussions, Sherif Bakr said, “At first I thought of the 10% as taking a risk. However, I later realized that risks could be replaced by welcoming new ideas. I took the risk of introducing new genres, such as comics, in the Egyptian market, and I observed 90% success. Despite the size of the market, we see a lack of effective communication and an inherent need to close this gap. Many publishers complain about piracy, but we have to realize that piracy hasn’t started recently; he’s been there a long time. It can also be said that piracy led to the establishment of a digital readership as people accepted to read on screens to access the story. We need to create a system that generates more profits for publishers, because when that happens, more publishers will appear in the market and reduce the communication gap.

Shereen Kreidieh said: “In the Arab world, relationships are of great value. For any businessman, relationship building is essential if he wants his business to succeed. The publishing process includes many special little stories, most of them different from each other. Just as readers have their preferences, so do editors. The 70-20-10 model may not be the right one for the Arab world, but it offers plenty of room for experimentation as the market is full of ideas. For example, when talking about children’s books, the edition before the 2000s was widely translated. However, we observe today how many authors and illustrators emerge and share manuscripts; it’s obvious that changes are happening in the industry around us.

Stefanie Lamprinidi said: “The Arabic publishing market is very attractive because we have around 400 million Arabic speakers in the world. It is the second most spoken language in Sweden! When we talk about audiobooks, the first step is to educate the audience on how they can easily incorporate them into their daily lives. With things like soundscapes and music, I think audiobooks create an enhanced experience of the same stories you love to read from hardcovers. During the pandemic, the demand for children’s audiobooks has increased and we have seen many parents using audiobooks as a way to introduce their children to reading. I agree that the physical experience of reading a book with your child cannot be replaced, but it is a wonderful tool for hesitant readers and for introducing your children to a whole new world of stories. When we look at the biggest genres, audiobook fans often find themselves addicted to crime and thriller books or romance and feel-good novels. In comparison, new audiobook listeners opt for personal development and self-help books.

Rüediger Wischenbart said: “When we look at the Arabic publishing market, we find it fragmented. We need to focus on three areas of concern – the fragmentation of information and distribution, literacy education, and respect for authors and their intellectual property. There is a need for a permanent permanent platform that addresses these three areas of concern, and that is how we will overcome market fragmentation. When we have different countries on board, we can work together to create a permanent structure that must focus on reading education. We have to learn from other countries and other models, but when we focus on the Arabic publishing market, we have to create our own model.


About Arabic Language Center Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center, established following a directive from His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, under the Ministry of Culture and of Abu Dhabi Tourism, works to support Arabic language development and modernization through comprehensive strategies and frameworks, enrich the scientific, educational, cultural and creative contributions of the Arabic language, promote language proficiency Arabic and cultural understanding, and supporting Arab talents in the fields of writing, translation, publishing, scientific research, arts, content creation and organization of book fairs. The Center strives to achieve its core vision through dedicated programs, human expertise and meaningful partnerships with the world’s most prestigious technical, cultural and academic institutions.

About the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi) drives the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi’s culture, tourism and creative sectors, fuels economic progress and helps achieve global ambitions more off Abu Dhabi. By working in partnership with the organizations that define the emirate’s position as a leading international destination, DCT Abu Dhabi strives to unite the ecosystem around a shared vision of the emirate’s potential, coordinate efforts and investments, to propose innovative solutions and to use the best tools, policies and systems to support the culture and tourism industries.

DCT Abu Dhabi’s vision is defined by the people, heritage and landscape of the emirate. We work to enhance Abu Dhabi’s status as a place of authenticity, innovation and unrivaled experiences, represented by its living traditions of hospitality, pioneering initiatives and creative thinking.

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