Sharjah launches Dh200,000 relief fund for publishers affected by Beirut blast

Grants will help individual publishers, as well as support the next Beirut International Book Fair

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, vice-president of the International Publishers Association and head of Sharjah World Book Capital. Supplied

Much like books stand spine to spine on a bookcase, Sharjah is standing in solidarity with its literary peers in Lebanon.

In collaboration with the Sharjah World Book Capital Office (SWBCO) and Sharjah Book Authority, the emirate has created an emergency relief fund to support publishers affected by August's blast in Beirut.

SWBCO has created a fund of Dh200,000, which will be split into two grants designed to help publishers stay afloat amid the economic ramifications of the explosion, which killed almost 200 people, wounded 6,500, and devastated swathes of the city.

“Supporting the Arab world’s publishing sector is one of our top priorities at SWBCO and a pillar on which the celebrations of the title began on," says Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, vice president of the International Publishers Association and head of SWBCO.

"Publishers are the core of the book industry, and providing support will reflect positively on the cultural movement and help attract more investment into the cultural sector locally and internationally."

The first grant will go towards supporting the next Beirut International Book Fair, a date for which has not yet been set.

The second grant will be used to support Lebanese publishers who have taken a hit in sales, driven by the cancellation or postponement of Arab book fairs and exhibitions.

Beneficiaries will be decided by a committee formed by the Sharjah Book Authority; interested publishers can submit proposals by emailing

"We always believed that Arab culture is a strong bond that brings us together," says Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority.

Creativity in all its forms is the foundation for advanced and humane societies

"Based on that, and in cooperation with SWBCO, we were keen on supporting publishers and creatives in the Lebanese capital during this ordeal to enable them carry on — because we believe that creativity in all its forms is the foundation for advanced and humane societies.”

Sharjah Book Authority will also waive set-up fees for any Lebanese publishers interested in regional or global expansion through Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone. Interested applicants can email

The announcements follow news that Sheikha Bodour and SWBCO will be leading efforts to restore three libraries damaged by the Beirut explosion.

The work entails extensive renovation of the Monnot library, as well as supplying new equipment to upgrade the Bachoura and Geitawi libraries.