Bodour Al Qasimi strengthened publishing industry’s role in achieving sustainable development during her term

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During Bodour Al Qasimi’s two-year term as President of the International Publishers
Association (IPA), and the two years preceding her term as the vice-president of the IPA
between 2019-2020, she succeeded in executing a great number of commendable
achievements including bringing many new publishers’ associations to the organisation,
numerous impressive initiatives being launched, inspiring the vision of diversity and
inclusivity to be adopted, expanding the scope of work being conducted as well as
promoting the publishing industry as one of the main pillars of sustainable development
in low-income countries.

Throughout her presidency of the IPA, Bodour Al Qasimi served as a role model,
leading the global publishing sector during a very challenging period during the
pandemic and shaping the IPA’s future. Her efforts have brought about a paradigm shift
in the publishing industry world as she engaged many marginalised communities and
countries, allowing them to be key players in the industry globally.

Increased women’s participation and promoted their empowerment globally
Bodour Al Qasimi’s role as president represented a precedent in itself, as she was the
first Arab woman and the second woman in history to assume the presidency of the IPA
since it was established in 1869. Not only did she help to bring about change at the
association, but also in the world and the publishing industry as a whole, combating the
prevailing culture and stereotypes about women, particularly that of Arab women.

She also empowered women in the industry, launching the ‘PublisHer’ initiative, which is
a platform for promoting and assisting female publishers. The impact she has made
during her reign will echo into the future as the next two terms of presidents will also be
women, namely, Karine Pansa and Gvantsa Jobava.

Moreover, Bodour Al Qasimi had a strong role in women’s empowerment across the
globe by being an excellent example of a leader during difficult times. While
participating in international conferences and book fairs, she promoted gender equality
and equal opportunity, calling for more cooperation among female publishers to
exchange expertise and ensure a successful career for themselves and their peers.

Developed a rescue plan for publishing associations worldwide
Bodour Al Qasimi transformed the challenges posed by the pandemic on the publishing
sector, which hindered its growth, into great opportunities to shape the future of the
industry, as she instilled the concept of partnership between publishers from different
cultures.

These partnerships resulted in issuing the report, ‘From Response to Recovery 2020-
2021.’ It included surveys and case studies, gathering the opinions of a number of
representatives from the book industry. IPA’s team, led by Bodour Al Qasimi
communicated with more than 33 publishing associations around the world,
representing 70% of the global publishing market, worth around $90 billion annually.
Surveys and communications were geographically distributed in the following manner:
Asia 40%, Africa 27%, and Europe and the Americas 17% each.

Bodour Al Qasimi wanted the report to be a reference for IPA’s exerted efforts, aiming
to enhance the adaptability and sustainability of the publishing sector, as well as to
learn from the difficulties that publishers went through globally. As a result, the
‘International Sustainable Publishing and Industry Resilience’ (InSPIRe) initiative was
launched based on these survey reports.

Made 40 on-site visits to identify with the challenges that face publishers
In order to ensure that the findings and proposed solutions through the IPA’s report
synchronised with local frameworks of publishing associations worldwide, Bodour Al
Qasimi conducted 40 on-site visits around Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe,
where she met with publishers in their own countries, especially those societies that had
long been isolated from the publishing sector and cultural scene.

Established the first educational academy in the history of IPA
These continuous visits made by Bodour Al Qasimi became a step towards establishing
the pioneering ‘International Publishers Association Academy’ initiative, where over 150
leading officials and executives in the publishing industry, from more than 40 countries,
were enrolled. Those that benefited from the initiative included publishing houses,
distributors, authors, teachers, book fairs, culture and free speech advocates.

Work through the academy now provides dialogues, lectures, and scientific analyses on
modern publishing strategies, market trends, and the readers’ preferences for more than
15,000 publishers in over 70 countries.

Launched IPA Africa Publishing Innovation Fund
Al Qasimi continued her efforts by establishing the ‘IPA Africa Publishing Innovation
Fund,’ where she helped to distribute these grants to support the development of
publishing practices, including educational publishing and initiatives that provide
sources of knowledge for low-income communities, in order to increase access to
books, strengthening knowledge and culture, as well as empowering intellectuals and
creatives.

Publishing associations from 11 Arab countries joined the IPA
Arab publishers were widely supported and encouraged by the IPA President as they
represent huge publishing markets that had a great influence in shaping the culture of
about 430 million Arabs around the world. These efforts have attracted the attention of

foreign publishers towards Arabic literature, as its readers start showing more interest in
the translated works from Arabic writers.

Even before Bodour Al Qasimi assumed her roles as Vice-President and President of
the IPA, she made every effort to increase the Arab publishers’ presence in the industry
and continued to do so through her reign. Her valiant efforts opened the doors for a
number of associations in the region including the ‘Emirates Publishers Association’ in
2009, ‘The Saudi Publishers Association’ and the ‘Tunisian Publishers Association’ in
2015, the ‘Jordanian Publishers Association’ in 2017, associations of Iraq, Mauritania
and Morocco who joined in 2018, Somalia in 2020, and most recently, Libya and Sudan
in 2021. Additionally Syria was also welcomed to join as an observer member in 2022.

Bodour Al Qasimi was adamant to open the doors of the IPA to new members, its
concepts and cultures, empowering the societies whose voices had long been ignored
to effectively contribute to the progress of the publishing sector and promote their
cultures worldwide. This was in line with her goals of sustainable development and
common values.

Bodour Al Qasimi’s extensive experience and years of dedication to the book industry
all accumulated through her time at the IPA and her many achievements before
becoming president are a testament to that. Her continuous efforts to enhance
Sharjah’s status as a global cultural centre resulted in the emirate being named,
‘Sharjah World Book Capital 2019’ by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO). She is also founder and CEO of the internationally
renowned ‘Kalimat Group’, and founder of the ‘Emirates Publishers Association’, where
she was able to link the Emirati publishing community to the global counterpart,
attracting more attention to Emirati literature and culture.