With all this progress, there are still several challenges
the UAE face when it comes to protecting copyright.
Enforcement is really where several of the countries in the
region struggle, particularly as it relates to new forms of digital
content. The regulatory environment could also benefit
from expanding provisions to address on-line copyright
infringements, and extending the length of protection that
copyright laws provide.
Free speech is another sensitive issue. What will be your
message to your audience in Sharjah?
Upholding freedom to publish ensures diversity of sources
of knowledge and provides access to information that is
essential for cultural diversity, creativity, prosperity, tolerance,
and social development. Unfortunately, several countries in
the Middle East face important challenges when it comes to
freedom of expression. In the UAE, there have been several
initiatives to promote freedom of expression and freedom to
publish, such as the prioritization of freedom of expression
in the work of the UAE National Commission for Education,
Culture and Science.
We at the IPA believe in a dialogue-based approach to
engaging countries and member associations where these
challenges are more apparent. We aim to give voice to
publishers and publishers’ associations around the world to
help them advocate for change, although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to effectively engage with countries on
highly contextual issues like freedom to publish.
Our member, the Emirates Publishers Association has
been active in supporting member associations in the region
to promote dialogue and lobby for change. Some recent
activities include: • Participating in a panel as part of the 3rd Arab Publishers
Association Conference which openly discussed the
limitations on the freedom to publish and freedom of
expression in the region, and affirmed that these freedoms
are basic human rights. • Working with the Saudi Publishers Association to help fine-
tune its approach to addressing freedom to publish issues
which culminated in the creation of a freedom to publish
committee by the Association • Issuing public statements condemning freedom to publish
issues in countries like Turkey and Mauritania
How do you view the development of Sharjah
The UAE has transitioned from being a country with a small
domestic publishing industry to becoming a regional publishing
hub in a very short time. With the announcement of the creation
of the world’s first free zone dedicated for the publishing
industry, Sharjah has become a global publishing industry hub.
Given its geographic location and services, Sharjah
Publishing City will play a strong role in helping emergent
publishers bring innovative, unique voices from around the
world to market. This initiative will not only nurture the growth
of domestic companies to compete on a world stage, but will
also enable publishers to benefit fully from the globalization
of the industry. It will also help Sharjah capitalize on interest
from global and regional publishers in the UAE not just as a
sales destination but as a more permanent operational base
to access emerging publishing markets.
Sharjah being named UNESCO World Book Capital 2019
is testament to the pride Sharjah takes in its cultural industries
and innovations like Sharjah Publishing City to develop the UAE
as a global publishing hub. Sharjah Publishing City provides a
compelling value proposition for global publishers by: • Enhancing access to manuscripts, translators and editors • Providing state-of-the-art infrastructure, printing, and
logistics facilities • Providing access to the Middle East’s largest book
distribution company and regional marketing and sales
support • Reducing the cost of key publishing inputs, such as paper,
to promote cost efficiencies that will reduce the cost of
book production • Providing access to capacity-building programs and local
and regional grants and awards programs
Sharjah Publishing City aims to become the regional
operating base for 400 publishers by November 2017.
Elsevier is often portrayed as the corporate villain by
advocates of open academic publishing. How do you
respond to such attacks?
Allow me to address this as IPA President. The widespread
model in the publishing world is where the readers pays
(often directly, sometimes by viewing advertisement, etc.).
A model where the author pays is highly exceptional and
seems only to be embraced in the world of academic
publishing. As such in STM publishing you have mixed
business models. On one hand you have clear leaders
like PLoS and eLife that publish high quality open access
journals which follow the author pay model. On the other
hand, you have players like SpringerNature and Elsevier
that offer both the subscription model (where the
reader pays) and the author pays model. The surprising
development is that both Elsevier and SpringerNature are
now open access powerhouses and have done so without
Elsevier continues to support open access and this has
been reinforced with the exciting recent acquisitions such as
SSRN and Bepress. These online platforms help the scientific
community to collaborate and share their research, often in
open ways and are examples of great innovative solutions that
are being developed within the STM industry.
More info: https://www.elsevier.com/about/open-science