5 Minutes with Tarek El Bolbol

5 Minutes with Tarek El Bolbol

Tarek is a Dubai-based Lebanese-Canadian entrepreneur with a passion for the written and spoken word. In 2018, he was selected as an Arab Youth Pioneer by the Prime Minister’s Office of the UAE. For many years our modern busy lifestyle did not allow Tarek to read as much as he would like.

The lack of top quality and digital Arabic audio content is what led Tarek to start Booklava in 2016, with the mission of creating an audio platform for the Arab World by providing busy people a holistic platform to listen to top quality and best-selling audio content from their mobile phone on-the-go.

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Tarek worked for 10 years with world leading multinational corporations with several international deployments, leading projects in Marketing, Sales, Commercial Operations, and Strategy across 30+ international markets. In the last 13 years, Tarek has lived in Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, and Egypt.


What was the last book you read?

I listened to “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” by Ishmael Beah. Riveting!

How did you buy it?

On Audible

And what did you read it on?

My iPhone.

Which writer would you have loved to have met and why?

2 writers:

1) Dr. Seuss; because he’s the reason me and my siblings fell in love with reading from a very young age after my Mom had bought us an entire series of Dr. Seuss books.

2) Ibn Khaldoun (author of the Muqqadimah) because he was a pivotal personality of the Islamic and Arab Golden Age.

What is the one thing about your company that we need to know?

Booklava stands for Baklava, the eastern desert. Why Baklava? Because we were hungry when we came up with the name and because the Baklava is sweet and addictive (in a good way). That’s what we hope for Booklava to become –> “addictive”

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out in publishing today?

Dare to introduce new ideas and don’t listen to the naysayers. There is tremendous opportunity in publishing that “fresh eyes” can see best.

Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?

My Dad. I will need to write a book on why.

What is the single biggest challenge facing the publishing industry right now?

Readers have shorter attention spans. So you either give them shorter, more compelling content. Or GIVE THEM A VERY GOOD REASON TO DEDICATE WHATEVER OF THEIR VERY RARE FREE TIME THEY HAVE LEFT TO READ.

Does the publishing industry understand technology?

Not as much as it should.

Which is your favourite bookshop or e-bookstore and why?

“Librairie Antoine” [in Lebanon] as its deeply rooted from childhood.

Kobo is my favourite e-bookstore.

Go on, let us know your musical guilty pleasure.

I still listen to Savage Garden, Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys

What is the one essential item you bring to the Fair?

My mobile phone battery pack

What piece of advice would you give first-timers at the Fair?

Wander. Talk to and meet as many people as possible. Everyone will be interesting at the fair.


Tarek El Bolbol will be discussing Creating Compelling Audiobooks: the Unique Potential for Audio at Quantum: Inspiration Informed by Data on Monday 9 April 2018

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