Kalimat Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded in Sharjah, under the patronage of Bodour Al Qasimi. The foundation, which began operations in 2016, was launched to uphold children’s rights to access books, in particular those from the Middle East region who are victims of war and forced displacement, and those who are visually disabled.

With the aim of building better prospects in learning and subsequently opportunities in adulthood, Kalimat Foundation’s principles are founded upon advancing literacy.

We provide vulnerable and visually disabled children access to reading material. For the ones living amongst refugee and asylum seeking diaspora, the objective is to engage them in contemporary literature whilst maintaining bonds with the Arabic customs and heritage, from which they originate.

Our work and objectives go further to promote the outcomes of the 2013 Marrakesh Treaty, acceded by the United Arab Emirates, for the wider availability of books published in accessible formats, to benefit the blind, the visually impaired, and those who have print disabilities. In similar accord Kalimat Foundation and the Accessible Books Consortium, a public private partnership headed by the World Intellectual Property Organization, partnered one another in 2018, for the production of born accessible books in the Arabic language.

We have a tradition steeped in literature and publishing. Sharjah, the city in which we are headquartered was awarded UNESCO World Book Capital 2019. Bodour Al Qasimi, our chairperson is president of the International Publishers Association, founder of the Emirates Publishers Association, and founder and patron of the UAE Board on Books for Young People. Kalimat Group for which she is founder and CEO, is an award-winning publishing house benefiting from 450 titles, of which 120 are written by acclaimed authors; licensing and distribution rights in 16 countries, and international partnerships constituting Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom, Quarto in the United States, France’s Editions Gallimard Jeunesse and Italy’s Galluci Editore.


We serve vulnerable and visually disabled children, equipping and empowering them with knowledge and ideas in books, through a variety of accessible formats.


Our vision is to instil a love for reading amongst disadvantaged youth, to inspire them with new possibilities and ideals.



Through the provision of engaging reading material to vulnerable and visually disabled children from Arabic communities, we aim to ease social integration and also anchor cultural roots, for the purpose of building better prospects in learning and better opportunities in adulthood.


We encourage and facilitate, the production and distribution of books in Arabic, in order to protect and sustain culture, heritage and a secure sense of belonging.


Kalimat Foundation is committed to connecting civil society, by supplying literary titles that encourage understanding and dialogue between communities. In similar respect, stories present contemporary social analogies for youngsters, with the aim of supporting integration.


We are dedicated to raising awareness on the importance of advancing literacy to disadvantaged youth. We do this through our work in distribution, events hosted to educate the public on literacy for the vulnerable and visually disabled, workshops on new technologies and workflows in accessible publishing, and agreements with publishers and businesses to boost production in formats such as braille, large print, audio and EPUB.


Kalimat Foundation is dedicated to building a global community with business, institutions, government and non-government bodies, to broaden effectiveness in accessible publishing, from production to distribution.


As a policy advisor, we assess populations represented by the underserved in our scope of work, their demographics, capabilities, and the teaching, literary and technological resources available or missing. The objective here being to understand needs and gaps to address.


With a purpose for advancing literacy amongst vulnerable and visually disabled children, equipping them
with reading skills and knowledge, anchoring cultural roots, bridging communities and developing world
class networks; Kalimat Foundation has a growing footprint around the globe. Here is how we have

April 2016

Operations begin. Founding team formed.

April 2017

30,000 accessible book formats published, constituting print braille,
print and audio, pre-empting the Ara initiative.

August 2017

Ara initiative launched with the goal of distributing and producing
for visually impaired and blind children.

November 2017

Pledge a Library initiative launched at Sharjah International Book Fair
2017, with the aim of delivering books in Arabic, to Middle Eastern refugee and asylum
groups around the world.

November 2018

WIPO-led Accessible Books Consortium and Kalimat Foundation agree on
collaboration for the production of born accessible books in Arabic, adapted for visually
disabled children.

May 2018

5,000 accessible book formats gifted to children in Egypt, Jordan,
Palestine and the United Arab Emirates.

March 2018

Surveying begins on populations of visually impaired and blind children
the Middle East, North and East Africa.

December 2017

89 libraries and 8,900 books distributed through Pledge a Library to
children in refugee and asylum seeking communities in Armenia, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong
Kong, Italy, Jordan, Sweden and Tunisia.

April 2019

10 MENA publishing houses trained on born accessible production for the
visually disabled.

February 2020

Ara shortlisted for the ABC 2020 International Excellence Awards, under
initiative category.

April 2020

100 accessible EPUB3 books produced in Arabic, allowing for advanced
benefit in reading on digital platforms for the visually impaired and blind.

June 2022

UAE Ministry of Economy declares Kalimat Foundation the first Emirati non-profit organization authorized to apply the WIPO-led Marrakesh Treaty.

November 2021

Memorandum of Understanding signed with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, to support in the foundation’s planning and logistics to reach the children in need around the world.

April 2021

Memorandum of Understanding signed with Book Aid International to support the refugees and disadvantaged children in Africa through Pledge a Library Initiative.

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