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Nasher Organises Session for Publishers and Writers:

Independent publishing playing a major role in bringing about significant changes


Nasher, the first digital platform dedicated to serving publishing industry professionals in the Arab world, organised an interactive session titled ‘Where do Opportunities Lie in the UAE’s Publishing Market?’ on June 4th, to explore innovative solutions to the challenges faced by the Emirati publishing industry.

During the session at Kuttab Café in Dubai, the panel, made up of a renowned group of publishers and writers, representatives of cultural institutions and members of the media, suggested a number of initiatives to develop local publishing, including the need to provide incubators for writers and attract sponsors for their projects.

They also focused the necessity to bridge the gap between children’s books and adult books by enriching children’s and young adults’ libraries and building generations of readers from childhood. The speakers called for investment in talented writers and a cultural dialogue between writers, publishers and decision makers.

The speakers, including Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage; Dr. Mohammed Bin Jarsh; author Talal Salem; writer Mariam Al Hammadi; author and media personality Iman Ben Chaibah; writer Abdul Rauf Ameer; and writer and artist Sahar Al Zarei, raised a number of questions which asked whether the UAE book market needs more publishers, why the publishing market does not attract more Arab investors and why Emirati novelists do not win literary awards?

The participants highlighted the main characteristics of Emirati publishing over the past decades and the transformations it has undergone in the past 10 years, pointing out that local publishing has long been limited to government publishing, sponsored by government organisations and ministries.

They said that active and influential independent publishing has only appeared recently, and now had a major role in bringing about a significant change in terms of the growth of publishing, writing, marketing and the knowledge industry. These experiences have led to embracing the global cultural movement, as well as building future generations of readers.

The speakers argued that government publishing faced many challenges, most notably poor distribution and lack of marketing, depriving many local literary works from reaching Arab and global readers.  They noted that independent publishing coincided with changes in the global publishing industry and succeeded in providing innovative solutions and methods of marketing and distribution. However, it still needs more experience and support to achieve its vision and effectiveness.

They underlined that while the UAE’s book industry has made great strides in recent years, it is still subject to publisher’s requirements and the procedures to obtain permission to publish and offer for sale in markets.

The immense efforts and insights spearheaded by the Emirates Publishers Association were highlighted during the session, especially with regard to streamlining the relationship between local publishers and official organisations, activating partnerships and cooperation between writers and publishers, and expanding the presence of local authors and publishers regionally and globally.

Nasher’s experience and its presence in the Arab cultural landscape was among the highlights of the event. Mohammed Al Attar, General Coordinator of Nasher who moderated the session

also gave a brief presentation of Nasher’s vision and goals.

He said: “We aim to be the first choice for anyone wanting to stay up-to-date with all publishing-related events and activities, including current issues, challenges, studies and opportunities. The site enables stakeholders to share views, ideas, research and surveys concerning the dynamic publishing industry and by facilitating the exchange of important information relating to all aspects of the publishing domain, we aspire to enrich the sector and take it to even greater heights.”