• Saturday, December 02, 2023

The Publishing Industry in Qatar was Showcased at the Amman Book Fair

Discover expert insights at the AIBF 2023 conference in Qatar, spotlighting Qatar's cultural impact and innovations in Arab publishing.
on Sep 25, 2023
The Publishing Industry in Qatar was Showcased at the Amman Book Fair | Frontlist

A publishing industry conference was organised in Qatar as part of the Qatar cultural programme accompanying the Amman International Book Fair (AIBF) 2023.

Speakers at the symposium included Ibrahim Abdulrahim al-Sayed, Vice-President of the Arab Publishers Association, Dr. Aisha Jassim al-Kuwari, General-Manager of the Qatari Forum for Authors and CEO of Rosa Publishing House, and Jabr Muhamed Abu Fares, President of the Union of Jordanian Publishers.

The conference was hosted by Jordanian novelist Ahmed Tarawneh, who shed light on the entire Arab cultural scene and Qatar's essential contributions to its richness.

He emphasised the interdependence of culture and economy, stating that cultural sectors, especially publishing, are critical pillars of every country's economy.

The international publishing market was worth $138 billion in 2022, according to Tarawneh, while Arab countries' contribution was just $5 billion, largely limited to producing university and school books, indicating that the Arab publishing business is in a perilous phase.

He emphasised that Qatar is an important component of the Arab cultural scene and the publishing sector, which necessitates investigating the reality of publishing in the country and identifying its strengths and faults.

Dr. Aisha al-Kuwari emphasised the close relationship between the publishing industry and the economy, pointing out that the publishing industry is considered a knowledge economy and faces significant challenges, implying that publishers shoulder their social responsibility in addition to the required investment ambition.

She went on to say that the reality of the publishing business in Qatar is not dissimilar to that of the Arab countries in terms of problems, challenges, and economic crises affecting the sector, such as rising paper prices, declining book purchase rates, and the spread of the reading culture. The solution to these challenges rests in the "difficult reconciliation" of the publishing sector's issues and high prices with the poor ability to purchase books, which necessitates substantial roles on the part of the publisher, the reader, and society as a whole.

She stated that the number of publishing houses in Qatar is quite tiny in comparison to the State's big vision and desire. Before that date, the publishing sector in Qatar was a governmental institutional sector such as distribution institutions and libraries, she added, explaining that Rosa Publishing House was the first publisher in Qatar, followed by Dar Al Watad, and then Dar Nabja. 

Following that, she said, various private or semi-governmental publishing organisations, such as Qatar University Press, Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press, and publishing houses linked with research and study centres, were established.

Dr. Aisha al-Kuwari stated that the multiplicity of publishing firms in Qatar today is a positive indicator.

She concluded by saying that the AIBF 2023 provides an opportunity to highlight the publishing sector in Qatar and to develop collaboration bridges between authors and publishers from Qatar and Jordan.

Dr. a-Sayyed, for his part, discussed the history and emergence of the publishing industry in Qatar, stating that the State was one of the first in the Arab world, beginning with the era of the founder, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani, to show interest in books, which were printed in the country and also purchased from India, Egypt, and Baghdad. He also mentioned the Qatar Public Library, which was established in 1958 as the first official library in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Ibrahim Al Sayed discussed the history of the Qatari publishing sector, stating that Qatar was one of the first countries to join the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) system in the early 1980s.

He noted that the publishing process continued through government agencies such as the former ministries of information and culture, the National Council for Culture, and other bodies until 2017, when private publishing began.

He mentioned several projects that will help raise Qatar's cultural and knowledge level in the future, such as the "Qatar Reads" cultural programme, which is concerned with reading, writing, and publishing, as well as the presence of the Qatar National Library, one of the most important public libraries in the Arab region.

He also listed other cultural honours, including the Hamad Bin Khalifa Translation Award, one of the most prestigious Arab awards in this field, and the Novel Award, which evolved from the Katara Novel Award.

He added that the Doha International Book Fair, which began in 1972, is one of the most important Arab book fairs, ranking fourth in the Arab world after Beirut, Cairo, and Baghdad. (QNA)

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