SHARJAH – On the sidelines of this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair, a delegation of Arab and International publishers were given a tour of Sharjah Publishing City (SPC) and briefed about its unique services and infrastructure designed to nurture and assist in expanding their business to new and emerging markets. The supportive role that SPC plays in promoting a culture of reading in countries transforming into a knowledge-based economy was also highlighted.
Sharjah Publishing City – the world’s first publishing and printing free zone, a Sharjah Book Authority subsidiary was established in 2017. Measuring 40,000sqmt. The free zone was set up to meet the urgent need for a specialised publishing centre in the Arab region, providing a one-stop-shop that meets industry needs. The publishing City is home to 600 offices – including furnished and unfurnished offices, flexi-desk options and shell & core area for investors to create their own space.
The Director of Sharjah Publishing City, Salim Omar Salim, outlined the unique advantages offered to the industry, including foreign ownership, fund repatriation, exemption from corporate taxes and income of individuals, plus exemption from import and export tax.
“SPC is built on pillars rooted in Sharjah’s cultural movement and its unwavering commitment to empowering the publishing sector. SPC enables publishers to reach new and emerging markets through our cost-effective value Chain offerings, which ultimately enriches countries with more content and assists them in their transformation into a knowledge-based economy, and nurtures a culture of reading and knowledge exchange,” added Salim.
Wael Kiwan, a publisher from Syria, said the Arab publishing industry is full of challenges. “Our industry faces many problems, be it economic, cultural or political issues. They hinder our progress. We face a myriad of issues in marketing, finding subsidies and incentives, and most importantly co-ordination between parties. In the west, the industry is more evolved and works in a unified manner. We see SPC as a beacon of hope for our sector in the Arab region, it’s putting our industry on the right track to rival the west.”
Hiromi Morikawa, from Twanami Shouten Publishing in Japan, was intrigued about SPC. “I wanted to see the facilities and services offered in this city, it’s a pioneering project that is not available in my home country. What struck me is the unique location near University City where students can visit and get to know more about how this industry functions. It is a very promising project built on a foundation of respect for the written word. The emirate of Sharjah is renowned for its work to promote this industry.”
Naser Assi, from Authors Publishing House in Beirut, said “Sharjah Publishing City is a welcome project in the region. It meets our requirements based on its competitive services and facilities, which helps to expand our business and reach new markets.”
Sharjah Publishing City was established in 2017 as the world’s very first publishing and printing free zone offering those in the book industry the opportunity to capitalize on an array of benefits emerging from operating within a free zone environment. Further benefits also include the ideal location, at the epicentre of the globe with all the advantages of having the MENA, African, European and Asian region’s marketplace at hand.
Investment in cultural and educational pursuits is high on the list of priorities for His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. Thus, SPC has been established as a conduit of investment into creating a thriving book industry in the world. It keeps with the overall mission of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) which is to foster investment and growth in the publishing and printing sector within the UAE and the International community.