Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1205, (10 - 16 July 2014)
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1205, (10 - 16 July 2014)

Ahram Weekly

A bookish 3 July

The fourth Faisal Book Fair opened with a gala ceremony, Nevine El-Aref reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

To the rhythm of oriental flute and fiddle, Minister of Culture Gaber Asfour and Giza governor Ali Abdel Rahman along with General Egyptian Book Organisation (GEBO) head Ahmed Megahed inaugurated the fourth round of the Faisal Book Fair, an Egyptian-only national event held on the GEBO Faisal grounds in the Pyramids area. The opening took place at its scheduled time last Thursday despite terrorist intimidation, seeing as it coincided with the anniversary of the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Under the simple slogan “Read”, the fair brings together 54 Egyptian publishers for 14 days. GEBO presents new publications  including vernacular poet Gamal Bekheit’s play “The White Dove” and vernacular poet Sayed Hegab’s book “The Fall of the Idols” as well as “Unpublished Poems” by the great poet Amal Donqol. GEBO is also offering a 40 per cent discount on regular books and a 20 percent discount on books in the Family Series Library. It is also presenting the Al-Azbakiya Wall Market, selling second-hand books for a pound each.

The event also includes reading and drawing workshops for children, cultural seminars, poetry readings, book signings and folk dances performances. A section for folk handicrafts — clay, copper and tapestry — from the provinces of Egypt has been instituted for the first time, showing not only the finished products but also the techniques used to produce them.

In his opening speech Asfour pointed out that civilisation is based on reading which in its turn urges human beings to use their minds and filter what goes through them. He described that the organisation of the fair in Ramadan as a fortunate occasion because, he said, Ramadan is not only a holy month for practicing more religious rituals, it is also the month of science and knowledge through reading.

“The fair is a great opportunity to explore and rebuild the humanitarian and cognitive aspects of the character,” Asfour asserted, pointing out that Islam is a religion of enlightenment and knowledge — the first word of the first verse of Quran is “Read.” While roaming around the different pavilions, Asfour also promised private publishers that they would be allowed to display their books in permanent exhibitions and fairs of the Ministry of Culture.

On the occasion Asfour approved the traditional crafts development project proposed by the Cultural Palaces authority, which aims to place products in markets rather than merely using them as decoration in ministry spaces.

Most significantly, Asfour launched the Reading campaign which aims at encouraging the habit of reading among the public, especially young people, through providing a quality books at low prices. These books will be sold in the libraries and fairs that the ministry operates as well as at GEBO’s different book-selling outlets.

The fair opens its door free of charge to the public for two periods: from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and (after Iftar) from 8:00 pm to 1:00 am. A large parking space is provided at the entrance. Security has been tightened and an electric  generator was provided in case of power cuts.

One participating publisher, Noaman Gamil, the owner of Noaman Library, says the number of visitors to the fair this year is very low in comparison to the previous three rounds. He says this is due to lack of adequate publicity by GEBO. Meanwhile, Ibrahim Amaar from Nahdet Misr says it is rather due to people fasting and the hot weather. During the second period, he says, the number rises considerably. Hani Ibrahim from the Dar El-Sherouk said that it is too early to judge the number of visitors, but insisted that security had nothing to do with it.

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