As guest of honour at the 25th São Paulo International Book Fair, Sharjah has played a significant role in representing the UAE and Arab world at one of Latin America’s premiere publishing events, and taken a leap forward in furthering regional efforts to stimulate dialogue and extend bridges of communication with other cultures.
One of the most impactful outcome of this participation was the presence of Sharjah Publishing City (SPC), the world’s very first publishing and printing free zone, whose representatives used the platform to give publishers, publishing professionals and literary agents in Brazil and South America a comprehensive overview of the instrumental role SPC can play in guiding and bolstering their business expansion efforts into Arab markets, and in identifying a range of business and cultural opportunities they can leverage through a regional presence based out of SPC.
A detailed presentation was given by SPC to the fair’s attendees, which revealed that the Arab world consumes over USD 1 billion worth of imported books, of which approximately USD 176 million is the UAE’s share – the largest percentage consumed by a country out of the 22 that comprise the region. Of this number, USD 3 million were highlighted as Latin America’s contribution leaving ample room with growth opportunities
The presentation also highlighted essential information about the carefully crafted ecosystem tailored for publishing activities, and ownership and commercial benefits of operating in a free zone like 100 percent foreign ownership and full capital and profit repatriation, no corporate and personal income tax, alongside the advantage of holding a dual license, which will enable businesses to operate in the free zone and the mainland (UAE market) at the same time.
World-class service and infrastructural facilities like Print on Demand (POD) and offset printing are available within the Free Zone, with cost effective facilities locally and internationally. Furthermore, the Free Zone is also an attractive investment destination for start-ups, followed by offering versatile licensing and registration facilities for new companies, subsidiaries and regional branches of international companies.
The presenter demonstrated how Brazilian and international publishers can take it further by leveraging Sharjah’s leading position and competitiveness in the region’s publishing trade, reinforced by SPC’s specialized services especially in areas like print-on-demand.
Salim Omar Salim, Director of Sharjah Publishing City (SPC), said: “We believe that Sharjah’s participation signals a new era in the Brazilian–Emirati collaboration to further the books trade between our regions. SPC will help fulfill these ambitions by enabling international publishers to serve frontier markets and minimize costs through a range of targeted value chain offerings.”
“The estimated value of the UAE’s publishing market is USD 233 million, which is expected to triple in size by 2030. Of this, the category ‘imported other language’ titles holds the lion’s share and as such presents a sizeable opportunity for Brazilian and other Latin American publishers looking to make an in-way into the Gulf,” Salim highlighted.
SPC opened its doors to the global publishing market last year as a response to the growing need for a specialized publishing and printing hub in the Arab region that can offer world-class infrastructure, excellent air and sea links, supportive laws and flexible government regulations, competitive costs and a skilled in-house workforce to support the regional operations of international businesses.
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 Mohamed 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), to foster investment and growth in the publishing and printing sector within the UAE and the International community.