A mortgaged golden dagger becomes a hub of the global books industry. The UAE’s Sharjah Publishing City marks its first year

Sharjah Publishing City marked its first anniversary this week with a press release saying 17 countries are already using the city as a gateway to the publishing world.

So far, along with the UAE itself, businesses from Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, France, Britain, India, China, Brazil, Spain, Australia, Ghana and Nigeria are operating out of the 40,000-sqm state-of-the-art facility that is the Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone.

The SPC Free Zone, the world’s first and so far only such facility, offers publishing industry operators unique benefits, not least zero taxes and 100% repatriation of revenue, at,

the epicenter of the globe with all the advantages of having the MENA, African and Asian region’s marketplace to hand.

But wait. A global publishing hub in the deserts of the Middle East?

It’s a legend in the making. An Arab prince is bequeathed a golden dagger – a priceless family heirloom to be handed down from generation to generation. And at twelve years old the boy mortgages the golden dagger to buy books.

The boy, now a grown man, is better known as His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the current ruler of the emirate of Sharjah.

From a golden dagger to one of the planet’s beacons of literature, home to one of the world’s largest book fairs, and now home to the Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone.

From the press release:

With a multitude of logistical and professional services including printers, editors, translators, illustrators, marketing and promotions, rights trading tables, and even training, and logistics and distribution services, SPC’s state-of-the-art facilities have created a robust business ecosystem, and offer businesses the key opportunity to distribute content close to these regional markets, since speed is always a consideration, especially when shipping from the US or UK.

Culturally, the SPC Free Zone is a vibrant melting pot, which has brought together companies from a diversity of regions and nations from around the world, who are not just exploring new markets to expand operations, but also boosting the cultural movement led by Sharjah in knowledge sharing and exchange of expertise.

SPC Free Zone is also home to many of the UAE’s leading literary and cultural institutions; the Emirates Publishers Association, Emirates Writers Union, Arab Children Book Publisher’s Forum, Emirates Library, and Information Association, and The General Union of Arab Writers.

The press release adds,

Local companies set up at SPC Free Zone are an added advantage as many of them offer essential allied publishing services, like Print-On-Demand and Off-Set facilities that make book production and distribution easy and cost-effective, especially for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Sharjah Publishing City Director Salim Omar Salim said,

Sharjah Publishing City reflects our ambitions to support the publishing industry, engage with the world, and become a regional cultural hub. The energetic response we have received from big players in the industry and boutique publishers alike to establish operations out of this state-of-the-art base have been so encouraging that we are all geared up to expand SPC Free Zone to offer more office spaces and business services, whenever the need arises.

SPC Free Zone opened its doors to the global publishing market last year as a response to the growing need for a specialized publishing hub in the Arab region that can offer world-class infrastructure, strong air and sea links, supportive laws and flexible government regulations, competitive costs and a skilled in-house workforce to support the regional operations of international businesses.

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