The Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) launched ‘Unshor’, a one-year mentoring programme for Emirati publishers aimed at boosting their professional skills and expanding their experience, during a press conference held on the 28th of April on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Book Fair.
The programme, which will run with support from the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development (KFED) to the tune of half a million dirhams, is in line with the EPA’s strategy, which is aimed at enhancing the local publishing industry and ensuring the creation of an educated society in the United Arab Emirates and the Arab world.
The objective of the programme is to provide a systematic process through which publishers can grow with the help of experienced professionals who are available to guide and help them to overcome the obstacles in their way.
During the press conference, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, EPA President, gave an address in which she detailed the vision, aim, and importance of the programme.
She commented, “The publishing industry in the UAE has entered a remarkable period of growth, yet despite the drive forward that has been made through the implementation of relevant and efficient legislation and the great care that is being taken by all parties involved to nurture this vital sector, Emirati publishers still face numerous challenges, the most significant of which is a lack of experience and guidance. Through this programme we aim to lay the foundation of sustainable growth in the industry by giving up-coming publishers access to resources that can aid them in their growth and expansion process.”
“Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development was established six years back to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation among various society segments in United Arab Emirates and to develop the small and medium sized enterprises sector,” said H. E. Abdullah Saeed Al Darmaki, the Chief Executive officer of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development in his speech.
“Khalifa Fund is very interested since its establishment to support the entrepreneurs and the innovators in different sectors including the cultural sector. The Fund financed 13 projects in different cultural and educational sectors with a total amount of Dhs17.7m,” added Al Darmaki.
“Khalifa Fund initiative to support “Unshor” training program is part of its effort to contribute in enhancing the skills of Emiratis Publishers and improve their expertise to ensure a positive progress in the coming generations of United Arab Emirates,” he said.
A presentation on the scope and schedule of the programme was presented by Jamal Al Shehhi, member of the EPA Board of Directors and “Unshor” Project Manager, in which he detailed the various aspects of the course. He explained that the mentors and professional mentors, which were carefully chosen from among a professional and experienced group of publishers from the UAE and abroad, will be guiding each participant throughout the duration of the programme.
The selected mentors’ names were also revealed during the launch; among them are Dr Giath Maktabi from Al Maktabi Publishing House, Ashraf Shaheen from Al Borj Media, Fady Moqanzah from Universal Publishing, Maalem Publishing’s Nassir Asi, and Tamer Said from Kalimat Publishing House. Five participants – Nasser Nasrallah, Ali Al Shaali, Qais Sidqi, Nora Al Noman, and Mohammed bin Dakheen – were selected for the mentorship programme.
Jamal also explained that applicants must have a valid membership in the EPA, hold UAE citizenship, and have at least three books published for them to join the programme. Over the course of the year, participants will be guided to develop integrated and comprehensive publishing plans for the titles that they will be publishing, which will be supervised by their mentors. Participants will also be guided through the promotional phase, with agreements in place with top booksellers, Kinokuniya Bookstore, Jashanmal, and Virgin Megastore, to allocate shop-fronts to display the books, hold book signing ceremonies, as well as to promote the publishers’ titles through the media.
The programme has been designed to give its participants access to the professional expertise of established and experienced publishers combined with in-depth training through theoretical and practical training courses in all publishing specialisations. The participants will also have the opportunity to partake in a number of visits within the UAE and abroad in order to expand their experience, thus allowing them to effectively meet and overcome the challenges facing the UAE’s publishing sector. By providing these varied levels of support, the programme also aims to encourage entrepreneurship, and the innovation and growth that most often accompany entrepreneurship, amongst aspiring publishers from the UAE.
The Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) was established at Al Qasba, Sharjah, on 25 February 2009 as a public entity dedicated to developing the UAE’s publishing industry. EPA aims to represent UAE publishers at regional and international events, exhibitions and seminars on publishing.
It also works to disseminate the UAE’s intellectual output throughout the Arab world and worldwide. EPA aims to improve the publishing industry in the UAE by training and supporting UAE publishers, and to improve publishing-related conditions and laws. EPA gives special attention to translation from and into Arabic, protecting intellectual property rights and other related rights.