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Sheikh Sultan helps female publishers fight stereotypes.

Summary: The Arab female publishers agreed that culture is the basis for development and book exhibitions are great platforms for dialogue and knowledge exchange.

Afkar Abdullah

Dr Mai is concerned about the danger of superficial content written widely today. (M Sajjad)

The support for female publishers by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) is immense, according to long-term female exhibitors at the fair.

"Despite the difference in experiences and challenges, most female publishers believe the industry is male-dominated. The spread of feminist literature, which play a great role in developing the social life, is affected because of this domination," said the female publishers to Khaleej Times , on the sidelines of SIBF.

However, the Arab female publishers agreed that culture is the basis for development and book exhibitions are great platforms for dialogue and knowledge exchange.

"Sheikh Sultan encouraged the participation of feminist publishing houses from various parts of the world by issuing directives to facilitate their participation. With his support, the number of female publishers and writers from different countries have expanded," they said.

Dr Mai Hassan Al Zein, owner of the Lebanese Book Publishing House, said she has participated in the SIBF since its first session, 36 years ago. "The field of printing, publishing and distribution were limited to men. I noticed this when I started to work with my father during the early days. He was one of the oldest and largest publishers not only in Lebanon, but the Arab world.

"I decided to compete with men in the publishing industry and launched my own publishing house after my father's demise. I used to visit libraries and publishing houses to find, to discover the ideas that will motivate women and give them an incentive to challenge and break barriers."

Dr Mai is concerned about the danger of superficial content written widely today. "Unfortunately these kinds of writings attract youth. They do not engage in serious reading topics like literature, heritage, history, and religion. We need to have a solid novels carrying positive content for the youth. I am glad that the UAE gives great attention to the content created for children's books."

Hala Omar, owner of Hala Publishing and Distribution House, said the women entered strongly to the industry despite challenges, noting that she fought to prove herself in the masculine world. "My participation at the SIBF is an addition to my experience. I am always keen to be present at all important cultural events. Despite working for 30 years, I still feel discrimination and fierce competition. The industry is repellent to women. "

Bahira Abu Al Fotouh, a young woman who grew up in her mother's publishing house, entered the field with conviction. "The field is ruled by men, but I face the challenges armed with deep belief in my abilities. I knew the electronic books have become important, especially among the younger generation. A balance between paper and electronic should be kept in order to sustain in the industry. "

Bahira considers the massive gathering at the SIBF as a reflection of the appreciation of people towards culture and value of books.

afkarali@khaleejtimes.com

Afkar Abdullah

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Nov 9, 2017
Words:552
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