Thursday, 19 April 2012

Electronic Publishing in Saudi Arabia

Lectures on
Electronic Publishing in Saudi Arabia
at London Book Fair 2012

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Saudi Arabia organised lectures at its exhibition pavilion at the London Book Fair 2012 from 16-18 April this year. There were two lectures on electronic publishing and education. On the first day, on Monday, Dr. Mansour Azzamil, Assistant Professor of King Saud University, Riyadh, delivered a lecture on “e-Book and Its Role in the Development of Education in Saudi Arabia”. After giving definition of Electronic Book, Dr. Azzamil talked about the historical perspective of the evolution of the Electronic Book and mentioned about Vannevar Bush, Kays’ Dynabook, Project Gutenberg, Sony Discman and Sony/Franklin Bookman.

Dr. Azzamil also mentioned about the Characteristics/ Advantages of the Electronic Book and drawbacks of using e-Books. He also said about the role of e-Text Book in different learning patterns. While discussing about the future of electronic text book in an environment of education, Dr. Azzamil mentioned shifting the value of books from physical objects to social objects; e-Book communities; sharing reading experience; reading as participatory activity; e-Pub3: Latest version of the open e-book standard and media interaction. Dr. Azzamil also mentioned rich and interactive online experience; up to date content; improved indexing; searching; navigation; e-discovery functionality; a collection of links and interactive content.

The most interesting item was some statistics of e-Textbooks in the field of education. Talking about this, Dr. Azzamil mentioned, total e-textbooks market was $5.794,180 in 2002; $31.800,000 in 2007; $1.76 billion in 2009; and $3.66 billion in 2012.

On Tuesday, 17th of April, 2012, there was another lecture, again on electronic publishing. Dr. Majda Ezzat Gharieb, Assistant Professor of King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, delivered a lecture on “Electronic Publishing in Saudi Arabia: Its Development and Future”. In an interview with me, Dr. Gharieb said, she will be talking about electronic publishing and its development in Saudi Arabia. She explained the futures of the electronic publishing in Saudi Arabia.

At the very start, Dr. Gharieb shed some light on the concept of electronic publishing, its development and future in Saudi Arabia. While talking about the significant dates in the history of ICT development in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Gharieb mentioned that in 1993, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals became the First Saudi Institution connected to the Internet. In 1994, King Abdul Aziz City of Science and Technology (KACST) had registered itself as a national regulatory manager of the region carrying the symbol (.sa) and built its own site In 1995, Saudi authorities decided to use Internet protocol in GULFNET to build an information highway, which links academic institutions, scientific research centres and public libraries in Saudi Arabia. This network formation was called Saudi Net.

Dr. Gharieb continued, in 2001 the establishment of the Saudi Communication Commission and the approval of communication regulations in Saudi Arabia. In 2002, Saudi Universities created orientation websites. In 2004, the Governmental agencies and private institutions began to use “SADAD” system for online payment services. In 2004, Saudi newspapers became available online in both Arabic and English to all users. In 2006, the Internet functions were transferred from KACST to Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC).

In 2007, the national E-Transaction Conference came to enhance the public awareness of the importance of using technology in governmental administration sectors. In 2010, the “e-Government National Conference” was held. In 2011, the “Digital Arabic Content on the Internet: Challenges and Ambitions Conference” was held in Riyadh from 3-5 September. In 2012, a workshop to introduce the e-Government 2nd Action Plan was held by the e-Government programme (Yasser) on Sunday, 4th March. In March 2012, the First Mobile Government Conference was held in Al-Hassa.

Dr. Gharieb also highlighted the main initiatives around electronic publishing in Saudi Arabia.

Besides the above lectures, Saudi pavilion also distributed books. Professor Turkistani told me in an interview that “We have been showing some documentaries around the clock here under the big screen. We have about 11 screens besides the main screen, 12 screens in total, all showing documentaries about Hajj, Journeys to Makkah, about Higher education in Saudi Arabia, and Arabian wings. We are also showing documentaries about what is happening in Saudi Arabia.”

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