The future of reading lies in many hands: In the small hands of children who read today on printed books and digital tablets alike. And it lies in the professional hands of publishers who must anticipate changes in business models and technology even as they adapt to them.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi is a strong advocate of literacy among individuals of all ages, who has to her credit a number of publishing initiatives. She is both Founder and CEO of Kalimat Group, based in The Emirate of Sharjah, one of the states of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In 2007, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi founded the Group’s original imprint, Kalimat—the first publishing house dedicated to the production of Arabic titles for children, which has published over 170 children’s books to date.
In 2013, Kalimat expanded into Kalimat Publishing Group to include a second, ground-breaking imprint, Horouf Educational Publishing, a first-of-its-kind initiative that offers a modern and integrated educational system in Arabic. In 2015, the publishing group launched yet a third imprint,Rewayat, specializing in chapter books targeting Adults and the YA market.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi is also the Founder and Patron of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), which was established in 2009 to help develop the publishing industry in the UAE. In 2014 she became the first Arab woman to be elected to serve on the Executive Committee of The International Publishers Association (IPA) whose membership comprises more than 60 organizations from more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas.
“In the late 2000s, there were very few initiatives in the Arab world concerned with publishing or reading. We really didn’t have that culture or that industry. And to see us now – a very small country, the United Arab Emirates – leading the way in the region and supporting content creation, supporting publishers – it’s really remarkable to see how much has changed in the past 15 years,” Bodour tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “And it’s done with a collective mindset of working together and promoting it from the grassroots level, working with writers, with publishers, and getting passionate about it as well.”
From November 2-12, 2016, Sharjah hosts its 35th annual International Book Fair, the largest literary event in the Gulf region.