The government of Sharjah is building a printing press it hopes will rival Chinese competitors as part of a new initiative, the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), launched at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival.
“The SBA will be located five minutes from Sharjah airport and Dubai airport is 10 minutes away,” said Ahmed Alameri, the newly appointed chairman of the SBA and director of the Sharjah Book Fair. “If a UK-based company wants to print a book it will be cheaper to ship back to the UK than from China. Or we can distribute it overseas.”
The company will also ship Arab books to the UK and other foreign countries via a new distribution company.
The business will be up and running in 2016 and will generate millions of dollars in turnover for the region, said Alameri.
The SBA will also set up a department of research into reading habits in the region. All public libraries will from now on come under the umbrella of the SBA, as will the Sharjah Book Fair, the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival and a conference run jointly with the American Library Association (ALA), the details of which have yet to be announced.
Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi, the ruler of the Sharjah emirate, announced the creation of the Sharjah Book Authority at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (22nd April – 2nd May), saying: “The Emirate of Sharjah has a rich cultural heritage - with historical monuments and landmarks that stand as living testimonies to its prolific history and cultural legacy being passed on from one generation to another thanks to its outstanding leaders throughout the past; the builders of the UAE's renaissance who have sculpted the Emirate of Sharjah into a choice destination of writers, poets, intellectuals and all lovers of the written word.”