This edition of the annual book fair, which will run daily from 10am to 8pm until 7 February, is organised under the auspices of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
The public queued in large numbers to attend the fair despite the cold weather spell that forced many to stay indoors.
On Fridays, the fair will open at 1pm.
Authorities have put in place tight security and coronavirus preventative measures including a mandate to wear face masks.
In cooperation with the Cairo Transportation Authority, the fair is providing 11 bus lines from various stops in different parts of the capital, including Downtown Ramses Square, Misr El-Gedida’s Hegaz Square, Nasr City’s Makram Ebeid District, Giza square, and Al-Azhar University in east Cairo.
The 2021 edition of the fair, which was supposed to be held in January of the year as customary, was postponed to June 2021 instead due to the pandemic.
Over a million visitors attended the fair in June, according to the culture ministry.
Milestone in history of Book Fair
Egypt’s Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem said the 53rd fair is a “milestone” in the history of the Cairo International Book Fair since holding the 2022 edition only six months after the 2021 one “proves Egypt’s capability to overcome difficulties and that the pandemic that swept the world will not prevent us from celebrating culture through one of the oldest and largest fairs in the world.”
Inaugurated in 1969 and organised by the General Egyptian Book Organisation, the Cairo International Book Fair is one of the largest in the world and the oldest in the Arab world, bringing hundreds of book sellers locally and worldwide and receiving around 2 million visitors each year.
The book fair was previously held since 1984 in the Cairo International Fair Zone in Nasr City but was moved in 2019 to a more spacious and better equipped International Exhibition Centre in New Cairo.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Minister Abdel-Dayem launched this year's edition of the fair on Wednesday under the slogan ‘Egypt’s Identity: Culture and the Question of the Future.’
Various ministers and high-level officials attended the opening, including Algerian Minister of Culture and Arts Wafaa Chaalal, as well as a number of foreign ambassadors and intellectuals and media personnel.
The Higher Committee of the book fair, which is headed by Haitham El-Haj, chose Greece as the guest of honour this year.
Minster of Emigration and Expatriate Affairs Nabila Makram said choosing Greece as the guest of honour in this year's edition is a culmination of the historical and fa-reaching relations binding Egypt with Greece.
Greece Ambassador to Cairo Nikolaos Garilidis affirmed during a conference on translation held on Wednesday his country's keenness to participate in the fair, adding that the Greek pavilion features numerous books in Arabic.
President of the International Publishers Association Bodour Al-Qasimi highlighted during the conference the need for serious work to ensure that translators restore their “high position in the world of culture, literature, and science.”
The late children’s writer Abdel-Tawab Youssef and late renowned writer and novelist Yahya Haqqi are the personalities of the year.
The fair will showcase a hologram of Yahya Haqqi.
Visitors can also watch one of Youssef’s stories in 3D virtual dimensions.
Prizes during the book fair will be bestowed upon the best Arabic publisher.
The value of other prizes rewarded by the fair rose to EGP 40,000 from a previous EGP 10,000.
Joining the 53rd edition
As many as 1,063 Egyptian, Arab, and foreign publishers from 51 countries are participating in the 53rd edition of the fair, which comprises 900 pavilions.
People seeking to attend the fair can book their tickets online through the book fair’s website or through ticket windows at the fair headquarters for EGP 5 per ticket.
Children below 12 years of age enter the fair for free.
The website also allows online book purchases, where people can check books, order them, and receive orders within a week.
Entering the book fair’s pavilions does not require showing coronavirus vaccine certificates, but only vaccinated visitors will be allowed to attend the cultural seminars inside closed halls.
Health plan for the fair
The Ministry of Health and Population has allocated four mobile clinics and medical teams across the fair to provide services to the visitors, Health Ministry Spokesperson Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar said on Wednesday.
Two ambulances have been also deployed, including a self-sterilising unit to move coronavirus suspected cases during the event to hospitals, Abdel-Ghaffar said.
A preventive medicine team will also be in charge of following up on the implementation of coronavirus preventive measures, including the sterilisation of all parts of the fair.
Also, a medical booth will be stationed at the fair to provide awareness and medical advice to visitors and to secure preventive supplies, Abdel-Ghaffar said.
Awareness banners will be distributed across the forum and short videos will be played in the fair’s halls to spread awareness of what coronavirus prevention entails.
There will also be two vaccination centres for visitors willing to receive coronavirus vaccine jabs inside the fair in addition to two bloodmobiles to collect blood donations.