MEMBERS of the Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing board held a reception at the Museum of Islamic Art, where officials promised that a “vibrant, dynamic and exciting list of books” will be published when the company starts operating in the Spring of 2010.

A $13.2mn agreement was signed between Qatar Foundation and Bloomsbury in October of last year, with the intention of stimulating literary excellence in the region by establishing a publishing house in Qatar.
Founder and chief executive of Bloomsbury, Nigel Newton, explained that there will be a number of initiatives involving the publishers, the first of which will the “World Book Day” on April 23. This will involve students from five schools to begin with, and is aimed at “getting children to enjoy reading for pleasure.”

He also mentioned that there will be creative writing courses on offer, to help develop more young writers in Qatar.

Newton claimed that Bloomsbury in Qatar will be publishing a range of books, from academic, educational and reference books, to children’s books and fiction, and within five years from starting, aims to have a list of 100 books being published here.

Arab literature is currently gaining recognition throughout the world but the talent that exists in the region requires the correct publishing expertise to take it further, he said.
“We want to make book publishing play its part in developing a knowledge based economy here in Qatar,” he added.

During the reception, a young Qatari political researcher and writer, Maryam al-Subaiey, who recently graduated from university in the UK, described her aspirations to become a professional writer, and read an extract from an essay published in “Qatar Narratives” on the subject of social injustice towards Qatari women.

And as she noted in her piece, it seems that the value of self-expression is a concept which is gaining support in the region, making the idea of becoming a writer “less of a joke” as it was in the past.
With the success of international literature in recent years, including the likes of “The Kite Runner,” (which Bloomsbury published in the UK) and Booker prize-winner “White Tiger,” featuring Afghanistan and India respectively, publishers are interested in tapping into work by and depicting foreign people, and developing international talent.

And this is what the Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing company will be aiming to do, by teaching creative writing and cultivating local talent in both English and Arabic language.
Newton explained that any writer will be able to approach the publishing house with their work, which will then be considered for the possibility of worldwide distribution through the Bloomsbury network.


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