ABU DHABI // Promising publishers will benefit from a mentorship programme launched yesterday at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
Run by the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), with support from the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, the Dh500,000 Unshour initiative will result in a first batch of five Emirati publishers receiving training throughout the year from industry experts.
Attending the launch at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, EPA president Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi said the programme comes after growing local interest in the publishing industry.
"Emirati publishers still face numerous challenges, the most significant of which is a lack of experience and guidance," she said.
"Through this programme we aim to lay the foundation of sustainable growth in the industry by giving upcoming publishers access to resources that can aid them in their growth and expansion process."
The launch also unveiled the programme's selected mentors, including Giath Maktabi (Al Maktabi Publishing House), Ashraf Shaheen (Al Borj Media) and Fady Moqanzah (Universal Publishing).
Later the conversation turned to the past as Professor Jim Al Khalili discussed his latest Arabic translated work, Path Finders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science.
To a packed audience at the discussion sofa, the Iraqi-born British scientist shed light on some forgotten scientific pioneers including the great Muslim scholar and polymath Abu Al Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al Biruni, the Iraqi physicist Ibn Al Haytham and leading medieval era mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa Al Khwarizmi.
Prof Al Khalili said more opportunities are needed to encourage a love of science in the region.
"There is definitely an appetite here but we do need the avenues. What is helpful is you see the opening of these channels such as the internet and YouTube," he said.
"We are also now discussing this topic in a book fair and I wonder how many of the books sold here are science books.
"This needs to be encouraged. It is great to have works translated, but we need young Arab scientists to also stand and say my work is also important."
Reza Aslan spoke to a sizeable audience at the tent venue.
Discussing his book No God But God, the Iranian-American writer discussed the evolution of global Muslim communities.
He praised the UAE for its progressive vision in regards to women in the workplace.
"This changes the perceptions which is so important," he said.
"So when multinationals come here they realise their assumptions were incorrect and they can hire more women in the region."
The book fair closes today.