The First Arab Book Fair organised in El-Gezira Park, in front of the Cairo Opera House, opened today with the honorary presence of the governor of Cairo, General Abd El-Qawi Khalifa.
Both Ahmed Megahed, head of the General Egyptian Book Organszation, and Muhammad Rashad, chief of the Egyptian Publishers Association, were present at the opening event. The fair is organised by Dar Waad for Publications and Exhibitions, with the sponsorship of the General Egyptian Book Organisation and the Egyptian Publishers Association, and the participation of 178 Arab and Egyptian publishers.
A large crowd of intellectuals and poets were also present for the first hour, later leaving the event to a much smaller crowd, including many journalists and TV reporters. Al-Gemaily Ahmed, the owner of Dar Waad Publishing, expects a larger crowd in the evening, attributing the limited attendance to the fact that it was taking place on a working day and notthen weekend.
Although featuring double the number of publishers, the opening event doesn't compare so well with the Faysal Book Fair held last month in Giza. The Cairo governor called on Egyptians to attend and to support Arab culture.
The fair is free for school students while university students will receive a 50 per cent discount on tickets. Poet Al-Gemaily Ahmed said that the concept of publishing as been changed, and the work of the publishers as well, due to the IT revolution that scared some publishers and led them out of business. But many publishers kept working hard.
Ahmed said: "I proposed the idea of this fair a year ago, but it faced many challenges. Now it is different, after the Arab Spring revolutions."
The fair includes, besides book exhibitions, several cultural activities featuring a number of Egyptian and Arab poets, including from Egypt, poets Ahmaed Abd-El-Moati Hegazy and Helmy Salem, from Saudi Arabia the poets Ali Al-Rubaai and Talal Al-Anzy, from Morocco Aziza Ahdia Amr and Nagat Yassin, and from Palestine Rose Shomelly.
Among the participating publishing houses are Dar El-Shorouk, Dar Merit, Dar El-Fikr Al-Arabi and other Egyptian and Arab publishing houses. The book fair will last from 8 September to 18 September, running from 11am to 11pm.