Bodour Al Qasimi wins regional award for initiatives in creating positive change for communities around the world
Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the American University of Sharjah (AUS) and pioneer of a wide range of initiatives to improve the lives of people around the world, has won the Fast Company Middle East Business Most Innovative Magazine Award 2023 in the 'Making Positive Change for Communities' category in recognition of her outstanding achievements that have a sustainable impact on individuals and communities.
In addition to founding Kalimat Publishing Group, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi led several international and local cultural, scientific and developmental institutions, as she was the second woman and the first Arab to win the presidency of the International Publishers Association (IPA) for the years 2021-2022, and launched the PublisHer initiative in 2019, which aims to empower women to reach leadership positions in the global publishing industry. She played a major role in Sharjah becoming the World Book Capital for 2019 by chairing the UNESCO Application Submission Committee, in addition to establishing the House of Wisdom in Sharjah, which combines the idea of the library and the Center for Social and Knowledge Interaction, as well as launching the Kalimat Foundation to enable displaced and visually impaired children to access books and read.
On receiving the award, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi said: "I thank the organizers of the award for initiating this recognition. For me, creativity means you've created something that didn't exist before, and if you've done it in a way that provides solutions to challenges, I'm happy about that. I recall that Steve Jobs once said that only those who truly believe they can, and that's true, can change the world. You need to think differently to make a difference, and that's something I think all nominees have in common."
The prestigious award, which celebrates various forms of creativity, is a tribute to Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi's journey in launching innovative projects and leading a series of initiatives for the benefit of the community, with a focus on providing knowledge and culture.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi founded the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) in 2009 with the aim of developing the UAE's publishing industry and making it more professional, before becoming a member of the International Publishers Association (IPA), which was founded in 1896 in France and is currently based in Geneva, and then chaired several committees and initiatives, until she was chosen as Vice President of the Association between 2019-2020.
In 2019, Sheikha Bodour partnered with Dubai Cares to launch the African Publishing Innovation Fund. From 2020 to 2022, the Fund invested US$800,18 in 20 projects to promote indigenous languages, disseminate reading, education, access libraries, and provide books in various formats for the visually impaired, benefiting thousands of people in <> countries.
Between 2021 and 2022, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi assumed the presidency of the International Publishers Association (IPA), a period that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating great dedication to unifying the global publishing industry during the pandemic, by developing a plan to enhance the sustainability and resilience of the industry as a balanced system of interconnected actors.
Reflecting her vision on the importance of the role of women in enhancing the resilience of the publishing sector and improving its efficiency, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, during her presidency of the Federation, made qualitative efforts to increase women's representation in committees, discussion sessions, dialogues and meetings, and these efforts resulted in two women assuming the positions of President and Vice President after the end of Sheikha Badour's term, and the current vice president is scheduled to become President of the Federation in 2025, which will make her the third woman in a row to occupy this position.
In 2019, Sheikha Bodour launched PublisHer, responding to frustration among female publishers about an industry where women were more numerous than men at all levels, except in leadership positions. This initiative has become a vibrant platform to promote women's participation and practical support as they make their way to leading the industry.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi has long been determined to make Sharjah the World Book Capital, which was achieved in 2019 thanks to an innovative year-long programme that focused on inclusivity as a priority. To celebrate this title and to commemorate this anniversary, she founded the House of Wisdom, a cultural center and library focused on interaction and enlightenment.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi established the Kalimat Foundation in 2016 to provide access to books for disadvantaged Arab children, refugees and those with visual impairments. The Foundation seeks to provide these children with knowledge and empower them by giving them books in accessible formats. To date, the Foundation has benefited 162,000 disadvantaged children in 31 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.