Book fair with a tradition

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 23 Jan 2024

This year’s 55th Cairo International Book Fair promises an enriching cultural experience, reports Nevine El-Aref

Cairo International Book Fair
Cairo International Book Fair


Under the slogan “Creating knowledge, preserving the word,” the 55th Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF), a cultural extravaganza, is set to enchant bibliophiles once again this year. A hallmark of Egypt’s literary landscape, the exhibit is from 25 January to 6 February at Egypt’s International Centre for Conferences and Fairs (ICCF) in New Cairo.

This year, the fair will be the largest ever, defying the challenges facing the geopolitical environment. It will feature a record-breaking 1,200 publishers from 70 countries and over 5,000 exhibitors.

Pioneer Egyptian Egyptologist professor Selim Hassan (1887-1961) was posthumously selected Personality of the Year while renowned author Yacoub Al-Sharouni (1931-2023), famous for being a writer of vibrant children and teenage literature, is person of the year for the children’s exhibition.

Norway, well known for its rich literary heritage, is the guest of honour and Crown Princess Mette-Marit will inaugurate the Norwegian programme. Norway’s foreign minister will also participate in the opening.

Norwegian Ambassador to Egypt Hilde Klemetsdal expressed her gratitude for Norway being invited as guest of honour in the CIBF, one of the biggest book fairs in the world, describing the invitation as “an exciting opportunity and a gateway where a wide spectrum of Norwegian literature, art and culture will be exhibited to a bigger Arabic audience and market”. 

Speaking at a press conference held at Cairo Opera House, Klemetsdal said that the high-level Norwegian participation is testament to the importance Norway places on the CIBF and on bilateral relations between Norway and Egypt. She said she believes that the book fair is a great opportunity for Egypt and the rest of the Arab world to get acquainted with the works of the Norwegian Nobel laureate Jon Fosse which have been translated into Arabic. Fosse stands as a prominent figure in contemporary literature and is one of the most widely performed playwrights in the world today, Klemetsdal pointed out.  

Having Norway as the guest of honour reflects an Arab cultural orientation towards engaging with north European culture, and introducing Egyptian and Arab creativity, noted Minister of Culture Nevine Al-Kilani. “This opens up broad prospects for cultural, creative, and direct interaction between creators and the public across various cultural realms,” Al-Kilani added.

“The Norwegian programme, which has the slogan ‘The Dream We Carry’ was designed to reflect the breadth of Norwegian literature presenting many of Norway’s world-class authors who will engage with their Egyptian readers and give impressions of Norway to strengthen the connection between our two countries, Ambassador Klemetsdal said.

The fair guarantees an extensive programme this year featuring 500 events throughout its duration. The agenda includes six one-day conferences on topics including artificial intelligence, translation, intellectual property, and renowned writer Taha Hussein.

Operating daily from 10am to 8pm (9pm on Thursdays and Fridays), the ministries of culture and transportation have set up 11 routes for 115 buses which will operate from several areas in Cairo, providing a hassle-free commute to the fair.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 25 January, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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