UAE Interact (www.uaeinteract.com), the website of the National Media Council (NMC), has launched a new online resource of books on the UAE and related subjects.
Announcing the launch, an NMC spokesman said the aim is to make a greater volume of up-to-date information on the UAE available to both national and international readers, utilising the latest e-books technology.
At the present time netizens who click on UAE Interact can access the 2009 UAE Yearbook in English and French editions, together with a smaller guide on the country, UAE at a Glance, and a major book on the UAE's wildlife, The Emirates – A Natural History. Arabic editions of these titles will be uploaded in the near future.
Each year the NMC supports the publication of the UAE Yearbook; UAE at a Glance and an accompanying DVD and the 2009 editions are thus part of an ongoing programme. Whilst previous books have been available on UAE Interact for downloading as PDF files or for reading in an earlier version of an e-book programme, the introduction of the greatly improved e-reader software has enabled a significant leap in functionality of the electronic library and opened up the possibility of creating many more e-books.
"We see this as an important step in media development and transmission of information over the internet," said NMC Director-General, Ibrahim Al Abed. "There is no reason why many more books should not be made available in this way and we will be encouraging our overseas colleagues to use the new resource."
The 2009 UAE Yearbook covers events that occurred over the past 12 months and carries valuable data on a wide range of topics concerning the UAE. Bearing in mind that an increasing number of readers access the online version of the book, or at least utilise the internet for up-to-date information, the yearbook has linked the text with a categorised news archive. Online readers can simply click on the page links to access the relevant sections of news archive, while readers of the printed book can enter the URLs into their web browsers and locate recently published articles on the same topic as that of the printed page. Whilst this facility renders the UAE Yearbooks more valuable thanks to the daily news updates on the website, the functionality of the latest e-books go far beyond this with improved text search and page navigation facilities, together with customised save and print options, plus bookmarks and "email a friend" tags.
"We certainly do not yet see the end of paper publishing," the spokesman said, "but we do think that this is the right direction to be moving and we expect to be developing the UAE Interact e-library further."