WRITING THE FUTURE

Kuwait 2016 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sheikha Intisar Salem al-Ali al-Sabah, Founder & CEO of Lulua Publishing, on empowering a generation of readers, regional trends in publishing, and the future of content creation in Kuwait.

Sheikha Intisar Salem al-Ali al-Sabah
BIOGRAPHY
Sheikha Intisar Salem al-Ali al-Sabah is an author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. She established Lulua Publishing, the only publishing house in the Middle East fully dedicated to personal development. Sheikha Intisar also founded Alnowair, a Kuwait-based non-profit organization that aims to spread a positive attitude and outlook on life. Sheikha Intisar her first production was the award-winning film ‘Habib Al Ard’, which debuted in 2015 to commemorate 25 years since the Iraqi invasion. She co-founded Prismologie in 2013, an international beauty brand.

What led you to focus Lulua Publishing on the themes of personal growth and empowerment?

I have been reading self-help for years, since before it became fashionable, and it helped me transform my life for the better. Looking at what was available to the Arab world, I started Lulua Publishing solely with a magazine. A lot of what is available in Arabic is not credible, and sometimes a little frivolous and superficial when it attempts to touch on self-help issues. It is not fair that people who cannot read in English don't have access to the best information, and I asked what I could do. I wanted to be able to give people credible information in their mother language because, though many people can speak English in this region, to read and comprehend something is different, especially content related to psychology and well-being. It is important sometimes to have your mother tongue to digest this information, and that is what we do. We only publish in Arabic because our target market is the Arabic readers. We had our first stand at the Kuwait Book Fair in 2015. We are actually the first publishing house in the Arab world that only publishes self-help, personal growth, and physical and emotional well-being content, and we are the only one that concentrates on inspirational publications.

What trends are you seeing in publishing in this region?

We predominantly work within the GCC, and we are seeing more and more inspirational publications coming into the market. The Kuwait and Saudi Arabia book fairs are the two largest in the region in terms of sales and attendance. The 2015 Kuwait Book Fair was bigger than in 2014, which is promising. Therefore, there is a growing trend. I disagree with anyone who says people do not read; they do, however their focus has changed. People still want to know what other people do, so biographies are still widely read, as well as novels. Content is moving toward triggering people's imagination, or their core being, whereas content about things such as history have slowed down. Poetry that invokes pleasure and self-help content is growing. Before the digital era, there were not as many opportunities to read; hence, people just devoured books and magazines, but now we have access to the internet to read online. People have become more selective about what they read. Audiences have also changed the focus of what they read. We all want to grow in one way or another, and so we either grow your heart, your soul, or both.

Regarding Kuwait, what does the future hold for original content creation?

We have many trainers, coaches, and people giving seminars and workshops, and they are able to make an excellent living out of it. We need to give them a little bit more time to be sure that what they are teaching has a long-term effect before we start using their content. Again, a lot of the content that they use was learned from the West; therefore, they have to adapt before we can say that it is really their content. In Lebanon, there is a more established track record. It is just at the beginning, and so there is still a lot of filtration. In three to five years, we will have many excellent writers coming out of this region. Right now, we have a 60:40 ratio of Western to local content. We started with a higher percentage of Western, which we were translating. We are seeing more and more local content and that is working well. We are able to find people now and are aiming for a 70:30 ratio in the near future.