Friday,15 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1286, (10 - 16 March 2016)
Friday,15 December, 2017
Issue 1286, (10 - 16 March 2016)

Ahram Weekly

For the love of reading

Book lovers flocked to the Alexandria International Book Fair, reports Ameera Fouad

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Under the auspices of Minister of Culture Helmi Al-Namnam, the fourth Alexandria International Book Fair opened on 27 February near the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in the neighbourhood of Al-Shatby. A 10-day event, the fair is the city’s largest – and this was by far the largest round to date. Organised by the General Egyptian Book Organisation (GEBO) under the slogan “Culture in the face of terrorism”, it brought together 120 publishing houses with a busy programme of readings, seminars and screenings alongside the book exhibition. This round has also had an impressively large turnout.

According to GEBO deputy Mahmoud Abu Zeid, “The number of visitors in previous years was limited by the size and location of the venue, since the fair used to be held at the Abdel-Wahab Theatre. But this year with the governorate’s cooperation it is given a lot more space at the Ard Quta fairgrounds right in the middle of Alexandria’s cultural district, surrounded by Alexandria University and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, both of which have large concentrations of book lovers. This is why it has drawn such large numbers.”

As the GEBO Cultural Programme Coordinator Mustafa Ghanem explained, over 30 documentaries – most of them dating to the 1970s and the 1980s – are being screened. They feature television icons and celebrities such the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish as well as such major secular thinkers as Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid and Farag Fouda. The fair is also commemorating novelist Gamal Al-Ghitani, a journalist and a historian who passed away earlier this year.

“What is special about this year’s cultural programme,” Ghanem went on to explain, “is its diversity. It was designed to include as many events, readings and seminars as possible. We wanted to make sure that every Alexandrine poet or writer was present. People are thirsty for books. One remarkable aspect of the fair this year is the strong presence of women of all ages. The young are present in large numbers too. All of which suggests that we might actually hold another such event before the end of the year, perhaps in August.”

Similar events, GEBO has announced, will be held all across Egypt.

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