• Tuesday, 26 March 2019

World Book Fair: UAE-Indian publishers discuss cross-border collabs

New Delhi, Jan 6 : On the World Book Fairs second day, a deliberation by Indian and Emirati publishing bigwigs saw the latter underlining the need for translated works, and for Indian publishing to expand in Africa through Sharjah, the Fairs 2019 guest participant.

Sharjah Books Authority (SBA) Chairman Ahmed Al Ameri was speaking at the 7th edition of CEOSpeak -- a forum for dialogue in the publishing sector that coincides with the annual New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF).

CEOSpeak was organised jointly by FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and NDWBF organiser National Book Trust.

Calling the forum significant and one "facilitating much-needed exchange of ideas and knowledge between the publishing communities of India and the world", Al Ameri said Sharjah is the gateway to Africa for Indian publishers, while adding that "reading and literacy are the beating hearts of Sharjah".

The official said it takes 60 days to ship from India to Africa, and only two weeks from Sharjah, the UAE's third largest emirate and a free zone in the world for publishing.

Inviting everyone to the Sharjah pavilion in the Fair, which is hosting 10 emerging litterateurs from UAE and a set of 57 books translated from Arabic to Hindi, he also highlighted the importance of translations for cultural exchanges and cross-border collaborations.

Interestingly, the forum also comes before a foreign ministers' meet on February 1, when 22 Arab League ministers will gather in the capital.

Sharjah -- also home to the globally-known Sharjah International Book Fair -- had around 477 publishers from over 17 countries in 2018, as per the SBA Chairman, and saw agreements signed for 700 English works to be translated into Arabic.

As noted names from the Indian publishing industry deliberated upon the local and global publishing, the talks were dominated by works translated across languages.

FICCI Secretary General Dilip Chenoy, while pointing to India -- a $4.6 billion book market and the second largest English language print book publisher in the world -- added that the "UAE accounts for a sprawling 37 per cent of India's total book exports to the Arab World".

Translations, he too said, are significant for the publishing markets and as an avenue for creative human labour.

"Translations are of two types. One is a verbatim one, and given the future of Google Translate, we might see a lot of translated works. That will bring a lot of cross-cultural understanding and exchanges.

"If there are four manuscripts of the same work across the world, you have to compare. Translation bots cannot do that, it will continue to require specialist human interventions as we go forward," Chenoy told IANS.

The forum also saw publishing stalwarts discuss literature for children and young adults, and brought forth the need to include them in forums like CEOSpeak.

Both UAE and Indian publishers noted the need to give young readers myriad options, and highlight the common challenges they face across geographic borders, rather than just trying to transmit values through the written word.

The NDWBF will conclude on January 13 at the Pragati Maidan here.


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