A fund worth Dh1 million has been launched in a bid to support UAE publishers whose businesses have been impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, founder and president of the Emirates Publishers Association, announced the establishment of the Emirates Publishers Emergency Fund in collaboration with the Sharjah Book Authority and Sharjah Publishing City, today (Wednesday, June 10).
“The global publishing industry is among the vital economic sectors that has slowed down considerably due to the pandemic,” Al Qasimi said in a statement.
“With every crisis comes an opportunity and we need to rope in appropriate mechanisms to boost industry resilience and emerge out of it stronger. Today, we stand with our publishers to support and lead them onward to fulfilling vital projects that will boost our knowledge and creativity.”
EPA will co-ordinate and communicate with Emirati bookmakers to best determine what help they might need.
The fund aims to reach severely affected publishers that operate within the country and identify any challenges the industry is battling, in order to ensure business continuity.
“It is with the unfolding of a crisis that co-operation and teamwork gain more value than ever,” Al Qasimi continued. “The publishing sector and the cultural community in the UAE have strongly upheld this approach as we navigate current uncertainties and work towards securing our future.
“The Emirates Publishers Emergency Fund is a fresh step in the direction, reflecting a more collaborative approach in promoting the written word. Safeguarding publishers and promoting the local knowledge industry is the need of the hour as the pandemic has proven beyond doubt the efficacy of the book as the most sustainable tool for spreading awareness, promoting values of peace and coexistence, and encouraging cultural dialogue.”
Guidelines and conditions relating to the fund, and details on how publishers can apply, are yet to be announced.
The move ties in with the emirate's long history of being a hub for literature and a go-to destination for readers, writers and publishers. In 1982, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, launched the first Sharjah International Book Fair.
Last year, Sharjah was Unesco's World Book Capital and a number of new initiatives were announced, including the launch of House of Wisdom, a state-of-the-art library, which will be home to more than 100,000 books, as well as a cafe and children's educational space. It was due to open in April.
However, amid the pandemic, a number of openings and literary events have been postponed.
That hasn't stopped the emirate's cultural institutions trying to foster people's love of the written word, though. For example, last month the Sharjah Book Authority launched a 10-day virtual reading festival.
In the meantime, Sharjah Public Libraries has given readers free access to its digital collection, which consists of more than six million e-books and other resources in about 10 languages.
More information about the new fund is at www.epa.org.ae