First Ramadan Book Fair to open Friday

The General Egyptian Book Organization (GEBO) on Sunday announced the opening of the first Ramadan Book Fair.

Scheduled for 5 August on Faisal Street in Giza, the fair will not be as large as the Cairo International Book Fair. However, it will host 74 out of 427 Egyptian publishing houses, in addition to 11 Arab guest publishers from Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

"The book market suffered a recession after the 25 January revolution with the cancellation of the Cairo International Book Fair. So the Culture Ministry decided to reactivate the book market through this fair," says GEBO head Ahmed Megahed.

Many publishing houses, however, refused to participate, arguing that Ramadan is not a suitable month for such an event and visitors will simply not show up.

"Publishers need to make up for the losses incurred due to canceling the Cairo Book Fair. Still, I refuse to participate in this fair as the ministry chose a bad time and place to hold it," says Fatma al-Boody, owner of Dar El Ain publishing house.

To overcome the problem of timing, the GEBO divided business into two daily shifts. The first runs from 11 am to 4 pm and the second from 9 pm to 1 am.

Some publishers believe that the shifts system will make the fair harder to manage.

"It will be more costly, and the morning shift will receive minimal visitors, given the heat," says Boody, adding that traffic in the Faisal area is continuously congested.

"People usually read religious books during Ramadan, rather than literature or intellectual books. This fair will only serve Salafi publishing houses," she adds.

The GEBO is organizing a number of cultural activities along three main themes parallel to the book fair.

A number of panel disussions will be held on the 25 January revolution and political change.

Seminars on literature and the arts will be held in addition to poetry readings by Ahmed Abdel Moaty Hegazy, Bahaa Gaheen and Farouk Shousha.

The Culture Ministry is also organizing theatrical performances, music concerts, puppet shows and workshops for kids at the fair.

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