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Abu Dhabi Publishing Forum Concludes

The Abu Dhabi Publishing Forum (ADPF), organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), has been hailed by key players and experts from the publishing industry as a leading platform for the convening of global publishing professionals to discuss industry innovations, challenges and solutions. The three-day event, held under the theme “The Future of Digital Publishing: Technologies and Challenges – the Global Experience”, concluded earlier this week, and saw participants gather at Manarat Al Saadiyat to share expertise, discuss the industry’s pressing issues, and provide their recommendations for boosting both the publishing industry and the wider cultural sector.

H.E. Dr. Saud Hilal Al Harbi, Assistant Undersecretary for Kuwait’s Ministry of Education and Director-General of ALECSO, expressed his happiness to participate in the Forum and his satisfaction with the topics discussed, which, supported by studies and statistics, highlighted many issues facing the industry.

Jaume Vicens, Vice Chair of Education Publishers Forum at the International Publishers Association, explained that the Forum successfully introduced different topics and sub-sectors related to the industry, and not only discussed issues but suggested solutions. He also expressed his keenness to continue to engage with partners in the Middle East and global publishers he encountered at the Forum.

Dr. Rashad Kamal, UN Programmes Expert, explained that the publishing industry in the Arab World faces many challenges, including weak production and revenue. He mentioned that the content creation cycle needs supporting platforms, and that the ADPF is actively helping in this regard.

He added: “I moderated the ‘Digital and Audio Book Development, Government Support, and Individual Initiatives’ session which introduced expertise on solutions for promoting digital publication of printed or audio books, and means to include them as supporting revenue to traditional publishing. The session also discussed possible solutions for digital piracy, which disrupts the publishing cycle and reduces revenues. To overcome this challenge, best practices must be shared to promote the presence of digital and audio books, and help reduce piracy.”

Isobel Abulhoul, Founder of the Emirates Literature Festival and Trustee of Man Booker Prize, stressed the significance of the discussions held during the Forum, as they introduced existing projects such as Dubai Audio Library. The sessions also presented global statistics to benefit all participants and attendees.

Aru Juu, Director of the Seoul International Book Fair, explained that the Forum is a leading platform for the discussion of industry issues and the sharing of experiences and knowledge, and noted that he was happy for the opportunity to introduce participants to the digital publishing environment in Korea.

Sayed Dijrevi, Arabic Content Manager, Amazon-Kindle noted the Forum’s wide audience of attendees, speakers, and participants – including publishers, specialised project owners, and writers – resulting in rich discussions and collaborative opportunities.

Valentina Qasisieh, CEO of Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, stressed the significance of the ADPF as an opportunity to review the latest initiatives in digital publishing, discuss the positive experiences and challenges facing the industry, and identify future opportunities.

Ahmed Weld Selami, President of the Mauritanian Union for Publishing and Distribution, explained the ADPF’s key role in presenting the risks of piracy in both digital and traditional publishing, as well as exploring the audio book industry in depth.  He considers his participation to have opened new horizons for him, adding to his knowledge of the publishing industry.

Commenting on his participation, Dr. Sherif Shaheen, Professor of Libraries and Information Science at Cairo University, said: “I was excited to participate as an academic specialising in digital publishing, following the trends in the publishing markets in Egypt and the Arab World. The Forum presents a great opportunity to introduce my experiences, share knowledge and expertise, as well as closely engage with companies working in digital publishing and its supporting sectors.”

Hamad Al Azari, Head of E-Resources at Sultan Qaboos University, confirmed that participating in the Forum was a significant opportunity to meet new publishers, review the latest trends in the digital and audio publishing industry, and exchange knowledge and expertise with participants.

Saudi writer Mohammed Alghadban stressed the importance of accessibility of content and property rights. He called for the creation of a governmental-led digital platform to support outstanding books and translate them to several languages, as well as a search-engine-like website to preserve intellectual property rights for digital books. He also suggested setting limits for printing costs and introducing a standardised pricing system, while stressing the importance of advertising and promotion for digital books.

Meanwhile, Saudi writer Ghanem Alrowaihel hoped that the ADPF’s discussions would produce concrete outcomes, such as the creation of a unified digital platform combining all Arab publishing houses. He also presented several recommendations related to protecting digital and audio book copyrights in the Arab World, including organising training courses in detecting digital theft, creating a government search engine for publishing houses to store available digital books, and putting in place a protocol for responding to digital publishing complaints as a result of digital piracy.

Rola Al Mzainy, Founder of the Esteraht Sayedat book club, hailed ADPF for including social reading initiative owners in the event, allowing them to network and meet players from the publishing industry and promote reading both locally and internationally.

Shadi Al Hassan, Founder of Rufoof E-Publishing, said: “As the founder of the first digital books firm in the Arab World, and a representative of the largest audio book platform, Storytel Arabia, my participation in this great Forum gave us the opportunity to introduce our services, promote digital and audio content, and review best practices locally and internationally.”

Ala’a Sulieman, Founder of audio book company Masmoo3, pointed out that the industry is in need of such events that convene publishers and other players in the industry. She also expressed her happiness at the chance to showcase her experience with Masmoo3 and share the challenges she has faced over the past eight years.

Carol Seal, writer and editor at University of Chicago Press, praised ADPF’s focus on digital publishing in this year’s edition. She confirmed the significance of discussing digital and audio books, as well as the use of social media and book clubs to promote such e-books. She also hailed the events held on the sidelines of the Forum, including workshops, panels, and an exhibition showcasing the latest digital publishing technologies. Seal stressed that the Forum presented a one-of-a-kind opportunity to gain more insight into Arabic book publishing and the latest trends in the industry, as well as meet with major player in the global publishing sector.

Eduardo Hugman, a Spanish publisher, said that the ADPF is a unique platform through which to connect with publishers from around the globe and discuss future collaboration. It crucially covered the latest trends in digital publishing compared to the traditional publishing. He also expressed his excitement at experiencing Emirati culture and hospitality during his stay in Abu Dhabi.

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