|The opening ceremony at Sharjah.
Sharjah Publishing City, the new publishing hub in the Middle East, officially opened this week. The Sharjah Book Authority reported that more than 200 international publishers attended a special ceremony featuring His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, ruler of Sharjah and member of the Federal Supreme Council.
"Sharjah was recently named World Book Capital 2019 by UNESCO and the Emirate is widely known as the cultural capital of the Arab World," said Sultan Al Qasimi. "But this is no coincidence. Reading and literacy are the beating heart of Sharjah, and we have launched countless initiatives designed to introduce as many people as possible to the wonder of books. Sharjah Publishing City reflects our ambitions to support the publishing industry, engage with the world, and to become a cultural beacon in the region."
The two-story, 19,000-square-meter complex contains 400 individual office spaces and will be the new UAE home for a range of international publishing houses, organizations and institutions, publishing service providers, distributors and printers. The facility provides tenants with the opportunity to capitalize on tax-free privileges, while giving them strategic access to the Middle Eastern, Asian, European and African markets. It also offers access to major international airports and sea ports on two different coasts.
Sharjah Publishing City will become the new headquarters for the Sharjah Book Authority, alongside a number of the UAE's official publishing organizations, including the Emirates Publishers Association, Emirates Writers Union, Arab Writers Union, Children's Book Association and the Emirates Library Association and Information.
"We are seriously considering the establishment of a Lightning Source print facility in Sharjah Publisher City," said Shawn Morin, Ingram Content Group's CEO and president. "This is an opportunity to reach the Middle East, African and Asian marketplace. Along with our reliable partners in Sharjah, we share the support of a global exchange and the desire to help content reach readers around the world."
Company chairman John Ingram added: "I have been going to the Sharjah Book Fair and the area for years and always expressed my confidence in the Sharjah Book Authority and the royal family to deliver on their commitment to the Publishing City Program. The opportunity to distribute content close to these regional markets is key, since speed is always a consideration when shipping from the U.S. or U.K."
Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, said the launch of Sharjah Publishing City "is an extremely significant development in the publishing world, one which will have a very positive impact both locally and globally. We have been overwhelmed with the response from publishers, and other companies from within the publishing ecosystem, who are excited by the City's unique proposition and see it as the perfect vantage point to access new markets. I was delighted to welcome His Highness and an audience of international publishers to witness the unveiling of the facility today and I look forward to seeing what the future brings."