As we head into cooler months, and providing Covid behaves this time around, there’s every likelihood we’ll see more record-breaking Arab book fairs as we say goodbye to 2022.
TNPS regulars will know Arab book fairs are among, and include “the”, largest book fairs in the world by footfall, with Cairo, Sharjah, Riyadh, Muscat, Baghdad and Algiers regularly pulling in one million or more visitors each before the Pandemic arrived.
Sharjah and Algiers were often 2 million or more events, while Cairo, on a good day, could even beat Madrid’s 2022 record of 3 million visitors.
As we head into cooler months, and providing Covid behaves this time around, there’s every likelihood we’ll see more record-breaking Arab book fairs as we say goodbye to 2023.
IPA out-going President Bodour Al Qasimi has helped raise the profile of the Arab markets globally, along with the Emirate states which, like Al Qasimi herself, have also done much to support not just the Arab Renaissance but a global renaissance across the world’s emerging markets.
This year saw participation at Riyadh for the first time of the UK and China, with unprecedented interest from western industry media in the Riyadh publishing conference, covered so ably by Ed Nawotka for Publishers Weekly.
Where things go from here remains to be seen. With Storytel MENA dependent on what freedom and resources the newly installed Storytel CEO will dish out, the Arab audio scene is an open goal right now. Per past TNPS coverage, there are a good few Arab audio outfits focussed on the region, so we might yet see this sector rebound.
More widely, YouScribe reported clocking one million paying subscribers across its Africa operations, which include key MENA markets like Tunisia, and while YouScribe has not said so my guess is the broader sweep of North Africa’s Arab states are on their radar for the near future.
And this year is not yet over, with more Arab book market action to come, with the big Sharjah event looming in the UAE, and also the Jeddah Book Fair lined up for December in Saudi Arabia.
Traditionally October-November has seen the Algiers International Book Fair run, but thanks to Pandemic disruption the 2021 event ran in March of this year, 2022, and as things stand it looks very much like Algiers will not happen again until 2023. Whether in the spring or back to its regular autumn schedule remains to be seen.
It also looks like Baghdad’s International Book Fair will be going ahead in November, and we’ll kick off 2023 with Sudan’s Khartoum International Book Fair in January.
Of course the turn of the year also means the South Asia book fair calendar will be brimming full of events, many of them in the million visitor club, but that’s for another post.
Let me end this post by simply saying that, after the Pandemic (not over, but not quite so menacing now) the Global New Renaissance is back on track, and promises to be spectacular as it unfolds through this decade.