Fathi Al Biss, President of the Union of Jordanian Publishers and Hugo Setzer, President of the International Publishers Association brought the curtain down after two days of intense and productive discussions covering everything from how Arab publishers can seize the opportunities of digital tools for distribution and education to how publishers can play their role in the humanitarian crises in the region and beyond.
Held under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah in Amman, Jordan from 30 September to 1 October, the Seminar featured a high-profile line-up of speakers to analyse the perceived crisis in Arab publishing and source solutions from experienced hands from the industry as well as a new generation of digital entrepreneurs seeking to overcome old barriers through technology.
Dr Mohammed Suleiman Aburman, the Jordanian Minister of Culture attended the Seminar on behalf of the Queen and heard about the vital role that publishers can play in overcoming the ongoing crisis of children displaced by war who are deprived of the opportunity to read. As Italian publisher Carlo Gallucci said: ‘we need to make books that teach kids […] about different peoples and cultures. It helps refugees to integrate and nationals to accept them.’
Joumana Haddad summed up the importance of reading while she grew up during the Lebanese civil war: ‘I loved reading for a variety of reasons: I was reading to breathe; to live (my life as the lives of others); to travel far away; to escape from the bitter reality; to suppress the explosions of war; to ignore my father's daily suffering. Thus, I built up layers of strength and solidity; to soliloquize my soul; to forget; to remember; to weave hope; to make plans; to believe; to love, and to endure life.”
Hugo Setzer in his closing remarks echoed Ms Haddad’s speech: ‘I wholeheartedly agree that there is no future for the Arab world without reading. But I would take it even further, and say that without reading there is no future for humanity.
Bodour Al Qasimi, opening the second day noted: ‘Arab publishers must act together to find a way out of the publishing crisis, not resign themselves to it. Life does not move backward, and Arabic Publishing is at the crossroads with a new generation of readers that can guide the region to a prosperous new future.’
The IPA’s Middle East Regional Seminar would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors.