World’s First Publishing Free Zone in Sharjah Invites Indian Investors

Sharjah Publishing City to open in first quarter of 2017

New Delhi, Jan 11: Indian publishers and printers keen to expand their businesses to global markets are being offered the chance to set up shop in the world’s first-of-its-kind publishing free zone which will open in Sharjah this year, offering top class built-up infrastructure, a slew of tax incentives and hassle-free relocation.

A flagship project of the government-owned Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), the Sharjah Publishing City is a free-zone covering 400,000sq m of land with office and warehousing space for companies to set up regional, as well as international sales and marketing presence. The zone is expected to open in the first quarter of 2017.

Sharjah, one of the seven Emirates of the UAE, has the advantage of a strategic geographical location with access to the vast Middle East, African and Asian markets.

The UAE’s publishing market is estimated to be $233 million and expected to triple in size by 2030. The Arab World collectively imports $1 billion worth of books annually, with the EU currently having a 29% market share.

India exports about $26 million worth of books and other printed materials to the Arab World, with the UAE claiming a 37% share of this.

“Sharjah Publishing City is a very significant project for us, both culturally and economically. We will pull out all stops to make sure it becomes a global hub for publishing in the future,” said Mr. Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of the SBA. “We are particularly keen to have Indian investors on board with us, especially because we already have such strong trade and bilateral linkages.”

Sharjah Publishing City is currently inviting initial expressions of interest for commercial registration and leasing. The Sharjah Book Authority team met members of the Indian publishing fraternity at a dinner meeting last evening to promote the free zone and the SBA is also taking part in the ongoing New Delhi World Book Fair.

Mr Mohamed Noor Hersi, Consultant to the Sharjah Publishing City, and an Advisor to the SBA Chairman, said the government of Sharjah has lined up a string of financial incentives to attract Indian publishers. These include foreign ownership, fund repatriation, zero currency restrictions and exemption of corporate and personal income tax; and exemption on import and export tax.

The free zone has a choice of furnished or unfurnished offices with long-term and short-term storage facilities, licences issued in 24 hours, sponsorship and visas for all staff and zero restrictions on hiring 100% expatriate workers and .

The Publishing City will have prebuilt warehouses implemented as part of phase 2 scheduled for 2017. They will be available for an affordable annual rent, featuring office and storage spaces.

Investors and their employees will be sponsored under the Sharjah Publishing City Authority.

“The Sharjah Publishing City will be tailored for the publishing industry, which is undergoing sweeping changes in an era of digitization. We understand the needs of the industry and the markets, and have custom built the space for them,” said Mr Hersi. “The UAE has a reputation as a highly investor friendly destination, and we are sure to maintain this with the Sharjah Publishing City.”



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