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First publishing free zone in Sharjah attracts attention

VM Sathish/Sharjah
Filed on January 21, 2017
Crowds at the well-attended Sharjah International Book Fair in 2016, which saw 2.31 million visitors during the week-long exhibition.

(File photo)

Enthused by the huge success of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) is setting up Sharjah Publishing City

Sharjah, the cultural capital of the UAE, is setting up Sharjah Publishing City (SPC), a new exclusive free zone for printing and publishing, perhaps the first such in the world.

Enthused by the huge success of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), one of the world's top international book fairs, the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) is setting up Sharjah Publishing City covering 400,000 sq m of land with office and warehousing space for companies to set up a regional and international sales and marketing presence.

On completion, the SPC will have all the latest technologies and the total investment for the Sharjah Government-owned SBA's flagship project has not yet been disclosed.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Mohan Kumar, SBA's external affairs executive, confirmed that work is progressing on what he says will be the first free zone in the whole world devoted to the printing and publishing industry. An initial expression of interest was sought from over 200 Indian publishing companies during the New Delhi World Book Fair (January 7-15).

Publishing companies starting operations at SPC will get a licence and renewable land lease for 25 years and full freedom to publish. A total of 400 ready-to-use offices and prebuilt warehouses on reasonable rent will be available to them, the SBA official said.

Benefits include a choice of furnished or unfurnished offices with long-term and short-term storage facilities, licences issued in 24 hours, sponsorship and visas for all staff and zero restrictions on companies for hiring all-expatriate staff.

In addition, there are plans for the international distribution network for books and a centralised printing facility to cater to the demands of the publishing companies. Kumar added that the project will be formally announced at a major international event in Sharjah, in April 2017.


Taking Sharjah to next level

The Government of Sharjah has been encouraging various cultural activities and publishing will add one more feather to the city's title as the Cultural Capital. The free zone will offer top class built-up infrastructure, tax incentives and hassle-free relocation.

Ahmed Al Ameri of SBA told Indian publishers that SPC is keen to have Indian investors on board thanks to the strong trade and bilateral links between the two countries, and the Indian community's active participation in the emirate's cultural and literary activities.

"The first international investor road show to attract international investors to the SPC was made in New Delhi, India. About 30 Indian publishing companies have shown keen interest in the project and will get an early bird discount." Kumar said. Investors and their employees will be sponsored under the SPC Authority.

"International publishers, especially Indian publishers, will have access to a growing market for books, especially English and educational books from the Arab and African countries.," Kumar added.

The UAE's thriving publishing market is estimated to be US $233 million per year and expected to triple in size by 2030, Mohammed Noor Hersi, consultant for SPC, informed Indian publishers in New Delhi.

"The SPC is a global project and our next investor meet with publishers will be in Latin America. Due to the ongoing political problems in some countries like Syria, the Arab publishing sector is facing problems and the new facility will provide a global hub for printing and publishing," according to SBA officials.

The SPC will foster investment and growth in the publishing and printing sector within the UAE and the International community.

The full-service publishing free zone is set to become a creative hub, aid those who wish to enter the publishing market, and provide a platform for exchange of original ideas and knowledge in a fully-supported and integrated environment.

sathish@khaleejtimes.com


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