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Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Founder and CEO of Kalimat Group, and Immediate Past President of the International Publishers Association, highlighted environmental pressures, material shortages and hyper-inflation of energy and other costs of business during the opening of the Sharjah International Booksellers Conference, a pioneering event that is building upon the success of its inaugural event last year.


Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi stated: “One trend that needs our immediate attention is sustainability, most importantly the impact of the book industry on the environment. It is also an opportunity to raise discussions on the book industry‘s sustainability and propose initiatives that could radically change the way we produce and distribute books, while at the same time giving us the opportunity to lead this change and be part of the process. No single publisher or bookseller or stakeholder from our ecosystem can face this challenge alone, which is why collaboration is more critical now than ever.”


Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, emphasised the importance of collaboration and innovation in the book industry and the need for the industry to address sustainability and effects of the industry on the environment, also discussing the growing trend of generative artificial intelligence and its potential to bring radical changes to the way books are written, published, and consumed.


The Kalimat Group CEO and Founder, and Immediate Past President of International Publishers Association, stressed the importance of staying ahead of the curve and finding ways to strengthen the industry and its processes, as well as unleashing the creative power within teams and inviting thought-leaders from different sectors to help the industry look at things differently. Emphasising the need to challenge biases in order to continuously learn and evolve, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi left the audience with an impactful and motivational message, saying, “I truly believe that we are at a historic moment in our industry, and through consistent collaboration, our ability to innovate and re-imagine our industry will help transform these challenges into opportunities.”


During his opening speech at the conference, Ahmed Al Amiri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, highlighted the commitment of the Emirate of Sharjah to supporting and promoting the book industry both regionally and globally thanks to the visionary leadership and directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. Al Amiri emphasised the significance of the challenges facing the publishing and creative industries and how these challenges could become opportunities. He encouraged collaboration between publishers and distributors from all over the world and stressed the importance of effective communication between all stakeholders in the industry.


Al Amiri also expressed his hope for fruitful discussions and successful outcomes at the conference. Expanding on this, the Chairman stated, “We recognize the significance of the role of booksellers and are fully aware of the main challenges hindering the development of your businesses… As such, we have organised this Booksellers Conference not only as a platform for dialogue and discussion but also as an excellent opportunity to present solutions, implement and support them, and transform successful experiences in this sector into practical lessons to learn from.”


In a quest to uncover new opportunities, untangle complex issues, and chart a path for the future, the two-day event — a first-of-its-kind in the region, hosting more than 400 booksellers and distributors from 69 countries — is committed to enriching the publishing industry. With a goal to spark groundbreaking discussions on the state of the industry, the conference is an unparalleled platform for sharing knowledge, experiences, and expertise that will redefine the future of the publishing and bookselling industry.