It will be after the summer that we begin to put together exactly how big is the book fair comeback for the MENA region. But safe to say the numbers will be staggering (5-10 million likely), and ignored by most of the western publishing media.
Running for nine days, Qatar’s experiment with a Ramadan Book Fair to mark the holy month of Ramadan may well become a regular fixture of the Arab book fair calendar.
Thirteen local and thirty-five international publishers are participating, the international contingent being from nine countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, India and Australia.
A list of participating Qatari publishers can be found in The Peninsula.
Qatar Cultural and Heritage Events explained the Ramadan Book Fair is an extension of the ten day Doha International Book Fair that ran in January.
That event saw 320,000 visitors buy almost a quarter million books.
The Ramadan Book Fair is one more example of the keen interest in books in the Arab world, which is home to some of the largest book fairs in the world.
Doha’s 320,000 visitors alone compares favourably with most European and North American book fairs, but that’s just a fraction of the visitor levels some Arab book fairs aspire to.
Let me here just mention Cairo, Sharjah, Algiers, Riyadh, Muscat and Baghdad, each of which in pre-Pandemic times could attract anywhere from 1 million to 3 million visitors.
And as the Arab book fair calendar gets back into swing in 2022 the numbers have not been far off, with Egypt’s Cairo International Book Fair clocking 2 million visitors (the linked image is from apost published before the Cairo event ended) –
and Algeria’s Algiers International Book Fair managing to pull in 1.3 million people.
There are more Arab book fairs to come, but it will be after the summer that we begin to put together exactly how big is the book fair comeback for the MENA region.
But safe to say the numbers will be staggering (5-10 million likely), and ignored by most of the western publishing media.