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Emirati publishers boost cultural exchange with India
By A Staff Reporter January 10, 2019
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NEW DELHI: The Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) has introduced publishers, authors, and cultural entities in India to specific aspects of their successful experiences in Brazil and Latin America, which can be extended into Indian and other markets to boost cultural exchanges through strengthening the literary translations movement and other cross-cultural initiatives.

This was done at a session organised by the EPA on Jan.9, and titled ‘Latin America Experience: How to apply this experience in India and other markets?’, at the on-going edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF 2019), which is celebrating Sharjah as guest of honour.

Panellists Tamer Said, Managing Director of the Kalimat Group – the first publishing house in the UAE dedicated solely to publishing Arabic children’s books; Ali Al Shaali, Vice President, Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) and Founder of Al Hudhud Publishing and Distribution, came together in a discussion moderated by Rawan Dabbas, and shed light on the impact of cultural exchange and ways to make it successful across markets by leveraging certain similarities that exist across publishing sectors worldwide.

Highlighting the importance of exchanging local expertise to enrich international publishing practices, Al Shaali noted, “There are several factors that have contributed to placing the UAE’s local publishing industry at the forefront of the Arab publishing scene and consolidate its stature in the global publishing landscape. When we presented these in Latin America last year during Sharjah’s participation as guest of honour at the Sao Paulo International Book Fair, several publishers and cultural entities identified commonalities in the ambitions and interests of the two markets, which we have been actively exploring since.


“The current situation of the India–UAE cultural relationship is at its very optimal, and we have numerous opportunities to build on this relationship. We are keen to strengthen our interactions with Indian publishers and explore ways we can adapt our successful experiences in another international market to benefit theirs.” In applying successful international experiences to different markets, Al Shaali stressed on certain professional must-do’s to ensure long-term success. “In the translations process, the rights of the author are paramount – it is sacrosanct to the way EPA functions. In Brazil, we had a thorough plan of the books we wanted to look into for Arabic translations. Children’s literature was on top of our list because we are continually striving to bring new cultural experiences to local children by making available to them in the Arabic language, diverse voices from around the world to enrich their formative years of learning, understanding the world they live in and develop complete personalities.”

 Tamer Said shed light on the challenges faced while translating works, and said that the challenge grows in a market where the country speaks 30 different languages, and literary works in all these different languages emerge from specific cultural contexts.

He noted: “Kalimat Group’s challenge while translating, especially for children, has been most about retaining the beauty and quality of the original text, while making the narrative relatable to young Arabic language readers. Thus, taking feedback from our readers about their experience of the book’s content and language is integral to the way we work.” Talking specifically about his India experience, Tamer added: “This is my first visit to India and I’m blown away by the cultural diversity of this nation. Through a closer look at the Indian publishing market, I realise that our challenges in trying to promote translation and exchange with this country are taller – especially when we consider regional Indian languages.

The UAE’s publishing landscape is very different from India’s, and in this differences I see endless opportunities to collaborate and grow.” Both speakers expressed their conviction that mutual knowledge is the key to fruitful business and productive cultural exchange, and have encouraged Indian publishers to meet the various Emirati publishers and cultural entities visiting the book fair, particularly the children’s book specialists to gain detailed insight into the UAE’s publishing landscape.

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