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American Publishing Multinationals Say Sharjah Publishing City Is A Regional Powerhouse
(22 November 2018)

Penguin Random House, Follet and Baker & Taylor conduct a detailed site visit


The UAE has experienced a recent surge in international interest from top publishers around the world, who have been steadily looking into seizing regional business opportunities with an operations base in Sharjah. These ambitions are now further fuelled with the establishment of the Sharjah Publishing City in 2017 – the world’s first free zone for the publishing and printing industry. 

America’s and the world’s biggest publishers have visited the 40,000 sqm state-of-the-art facility on the side-lines of their participation at the 37th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2018), which concluded last week. They include Penguin Random House – the largest general-interest paperback publisher in the world, Follet – 140-year-old distributor in educational publishing, and its subsidiary, Baker & Taylor – known for their distribution of books and entertainment products to libraries, institutions and retailers.

The visits were attended by Chitra Bopardikar, Vice President-B&T; Michael Abbott, Sales and Marketing Director - B&T; and Faye Upfield, Executive Head - Business Development - Follett. They were taken around the facility by Salim Omar Salim, Director of SPC and Mohamed Noor, Consultant – Free Zone.  

Welcoming the guests into the facility, Salim Omar Salim, SPC Director said: “SPC was set up to meet the urgent need for a specialised publishing centre in the Arab region, providing a one-stop-shop that meets industry needs. The publishing City is home to 600 offices – including furnished and unfurnished offices, flexi-desk options and shell & core area for investors to create their own space.

 “We have been taking our message of supporting and boosting the publishing business in the region far and wide through our presence at important international publishing events, and by inviting publishers to come have a look at this unique facility. The visits follow a series of networking meetings we held at the Frankfurt Book Fair last month with the likes of Simon & Schuster, Ingram, APNET, and dozens of other international publishers who have expressed keen interest in expanding their operations into Arab and Asian markets through SPC”, he added.

Chitra Bopardikar, Vice President of Baker & Taylor, remarked: “Sharjah Publishing City is a regional powerhouse in the making. These are the early stages of what is heading in the direction of becoming a world-class facility that will serve as a hub for the Middle East region, and one that suits the needs of multicultural membership. Publishers from around the world will be able to bring their various business interests, be it in offset printing, print-on-demand, media, publishing, and sales representation, to this exclusive space and benefit from its bureaucracy-free, investor-friendly environment.”

Faye Upfield, Executive Head of Business Development from Follett, said: “I have been pleasantly surprised to see the all-encompassing nature of SPC’s offering. This place can really serve all categories of publishing & distribution business. Not only that; it also has fully-equipped office spaces, storage spaces, licensing services, and places that can be used to host events. There are few such places where all of the business’ requirements can be brought under one roof.”

Sharjah Publishing City was established in 2017 as the world’s very first publishing and printing free zone offering those in the book industry the opportunity to capitalize on an array of benefits emerging from operating within a free zone environment. Further benefits also include the ideal location, at the epicentre of the globe with all the advantages of having the MENA, African, European and Asian region’s marketplace at hand.

Investment in cultural and educational pursuits is high on the list of priorities for His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. Thus, SPC has been established as a conduit of investment into creating a thriving book industry in the world. It keeps with the overall mission of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) which is to foster investment and growth in the publishing and printing sector within the UAE and the International community.

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