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With the participation of a number of elite writers and publishers, the second session of the Abu Dhabi Publishing Forum addressed possible ways to support the publishing sector by fostering public-private partnership.

The session, moderated by Emirati writer, Dr. Fatima Al Buraiki, brought together Dr. Rashid Khalfan Al Nuaimi, Executive Director of Support Services at the National Media Council, and Emirati author Ibrahim Al Hashemi. Ali Saif Al Nuaimi, Director General of United Printing and Publishing at Abu Dhabi Media Office, and Mohammed bin Dakheen Al Matroushi, Board Member of the Emirates Publishers Association, were also part of the debate.

Mohammed Bin Dakheen Al Matroushi said: It is imperative to have a common vision for the development of culture in the country by facilitating the release of publications, simplifying publishing procedures and motivating publishers, writers and authors.”

He highlighted the need to support reading and books through several channels the most important of which is continuous dialogue and strengthening the leadership’s confidence in culture as key to development. The latter was clearly manifested in holding a Cabinet meeting at the Sharjah International Book Fair- the first cabinet meeting in history to be held at a book fair.

Writer Ibrahim Al Hashemi said: “The UAE declared 2016 as the year of reading during which government organisations and agencies implemented many initiatives. After 2016, more emphasis has been laid on analyzing the continuation of activities after the year of reading, than celebrating the positives that emerged from this wonderful initiative.”

He illustrated that the country has embraced an approach to support reading, and is required to continue this support. Al Hashemi urged various government entities to allocate a portion of their budgets to support reading, pointing out that there are few libraries in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai – a figure that needs to increase with more patronage and support.

For his part, Dr. Rashid Al Nuaimi said: “The National Media Council plays a regulatory and legislative role,” stressing the integration of different media institutions to support publishers. He referred to the keenness of Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Chairman of the Council, to develop a serious strategy for developing the publishing system. This was apparent in signing a memorandum of understanding with all publishers to support the book industry, and establish a dedicated office for publishing procedures at the Emirates Publishers Association.

He added that the Council is eager to participate in all book fairs through its cooperation with the Emirates Publishers Association chaired by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, and revealed that the Council will be withdrawing all fees levied on Emirati publishers, and said that this will be stipulated in the executive regulations of the reading law, which will be issued later this year.

Ali Saif Al Nuaimi, Director General of United Printing and Publishing, said: “Subsidizing printing costs will in turn support the entire publishing system,” adding that the support is not necessarily restricted to monetary aspects, but is in investing in a new generation of writers, publishers and intellectuals, who can lead the country’s cultural drive after 10 years from now.

He went on to say: “We must instill a love of reading in our children and motivate them to read by giving them the time and tools necessary.”