Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1178, (2 - 8 January 2014)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1178, (2 - 8 January 2014)

Ahram Weekly

The bookseller of Kuwait

This year the 45th Cairo International Book Fair opens under the slogan “Culture and Identity”, Nevine El-Aref reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

From 22 January to 6 February — in an annual event two days longer than usual — the Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF) is to open its doors to visitors with 17 Arab and seven foreign countries and 755 publishers including 27 foreigners, 210 Arab and 518 Egyptian, as well as 92 kiosks of second-hand books representing the Azbakiya book stalls.

Kuwait is this year’s guest of honour.

At a press conference held in the Salah Abdel-Sabour Hall at the headquarters of the General Egyptian Book Organisation (GEBO), the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Egypt Salem Al-Zamanani said that being CIBF’s guest of honour highlights the strong relations between the two countries throughout modern history: “I am very happy that Kuwait will participate with its culture and civilisation in such a great international event,” he said.

Delighted with the selection of Kuwait as the CIBF’s guest of honour this year, Heela Al-Makimi, first undersecretary of the Kuwaiti minister of information, pointed out that Kuwait’s participation will not be restricted to displaying titles but will also include presentations of Kuwait’s culture and civilisation through numerous activities including folklore performances, cultural seminars, lectures and poetry readings.

“The Kuwaiti participation is not only addressed to intellectuals but to the Egyptian people as well,” Al-Makimi said, announcing that Kuwait will offer two cultural awards: one for intellectuals, to be held alongside the GEBO awards; and another for ordinary Egyptian people, to be distributed daily among CIBF visitors. Preferring to keep it a surprise, she refused to divulge what either award will be.

For his part the GEBO head, Ahmed Megahed, said this year will include new activities: a Children’s Book Fair (CBF) will take place separately, progressing along parallel lines with the CIBF; a special programme to honour the late Dean of Arabic Literature Taha Hussein will be held, including reprints of 20 of his books.

Megahed acknowledged the efforts of both the trade and youth ministers, Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour and Taher Abu Zeid, respectively, in supporting the fair. Abdel-Nour did not raise the rent fee of the Nasr City Fair Grounds (NCFG) as scheduled, agreeing to extend the CIBF’s duration for two days for free. Abu Zeid on the other hand allowed the CIBF to use the neighbouring stadium facilities for parking. After three years of remaining closed, the NCFG gate on Salah Salem Road will be open to the public for the 14 days of the fair, with an open-air book exhibition inside.

Awards for the best 10 books published in 2012 will also be held. The LE10,000 prizes, for short stories and novels, vernacular and standard Arabic poetry, science, politics, economics, anthropology and sociology texts as well as children’s books will be presented by Minister of Culture Saber Arab, with another 10 awards offered by the Kuwaiti government. Daily lifetime awards will also be held, honouring — among many major cultural figures — the name of the late vernacular poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, two of whose works, Agayeb (“Wonders”) and Al-Fagoumi, will be reprinted by GEBO. A new award for unpublished books will also be launched in 2014. Many young new publishers are participating in this year’s round for the first time.

“We don’t have any security concerns about the celebration this year,” Megahed said, “because we believe that Egypt is going to stability and the constitutional referendum will be held a week before the inauguration of the fair.” He went on to say that, for the first time since its establishment, CIBF is guaranteed with an LE100 million insurance policy against unpredictable financial loss.

In response to a question on the reasons behind the participation of Turkey and Qatar in this year’s round despite Egypt’s political tension with them, Megahed said that culture is not tied up with politics and the CIBF board did not prohibited any country or intellectual from participating in this year’s round. “The revolution broke out for the freedom of creativity, opinion and expression, and we are promoting these notions,” he asserted, adding that “every country participating in the fair introduces its culture and promotes its books which I considered a great opportunity for insight into what others are pursuing.”

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