EPA explores the role and impact of women in Emirati publishing

Posted 9 months ago in

In celebration of International Women's Day, the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) organised a virtual panel discussion yesterday (Monday) to explore how women are employing their unique voices to advance, enrich and diversify the UAE’s publishing industry.


Titled 'The role of women in the Emirati publishing sector', the discussion session brought together prominent UAE-based women publishers, Dr. Alyazia Khalifa, Founder of Al Fulk for Translation and Publishing; Farah Al Mheiri, President and CEO of Writers House Publishing; and Afra Mahmoud, Founding partner of Ghaf Publications and Library. The talk was moderated by popular Emirati writer and novelist Salha Obeid.


Salha Obeid Hassan commenced the panel discussion with a nod to the strategic efforts of Bodour Al Qasimi, Founder and former President of EPA, in unifying the local publishing industry and spearheading its growth on both regional and international levels. Panelists noted that her appointment as President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) was a global acknowledgement of women's role in publishing, and paves the way for promising opportunities for Emirati and Arab female writers to be part of conversations that will shape a more equitable future for the industry.


Afra Mahmoud, whose Ghaf Publishing focuses on creative Emirati content, said: "Publishers must be the bridge between the content they produce and their readers. To succeed, they must organise events to introduce readers to authors and their works, and pay greater attention to the distribution process to ensure that their titles are found on the shelves of as many libraries or bookstores as possible.”


“The love of books is not enough to be a publisher,” said Farah Al Mheiri, whose publishing house focuses on children's literature. “We must play a vital role in advancing the sector as a whole, and build our capacities to be able to turn challenges into opportunities. At the same time, it is important to attract talented authors, continue learning and develop our work to benefit the industry."


Al Mheiri also called for establishing a team of Emirati authors to brainstorm and develop innovative solutions to advance the sector.


Children's literature publisher, Dr. Alyazia Khalifa noted that passionate women writers were transforming the children’s books landscape by presenting concepts and ideas more relatable for kids.


Acknowledging the myriad challenges faced by publishers during the pandemic, she said: “We could not secure publishing rights from outside the country and had to go ahead with local outreach. Fortunately, the Sharjah International Book Fair went ahead as scheduled, enabling us to sell books and meet our peers. I believe that books are a necessity, especially during a pandemic."


Speakers emphasised the importance of reading and called for proper feedback to help authors and publishers improve quality of content. They also called upon authors and artists to utilise their time to hone their skills, document their ideas and diversify content to attract more readers.   


Concluding the session EPA’s Executive Director, Rashid Al Kous commended the relentless efforts of women in driving the growth and development of the publishing industry in the UAE and emphasised EPA’s commitment to improving infrastructure and practices to help female publishers transform all challenges into opportunities to grow their businesses and the industry.


UAE takes pride in having a variety of libraries across the country. Browse our list of libraries in each emirate here.

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