Morsi may open Cairo International Book Fair: Organisers

Mohammed Saad , Tuesday 15 Jan 2013

The fair, which opens on 23 January, will not close for the second anniversary of the revolution, according to the organisers

Cairo International Book Fair 44th term poster

The person who will inaugurate the 44th Cairo International Book Fair on 23 January has yet to be determined, but is likely to be President Mohamed Morsi, according to the director of the hosting General Egyptian Book Organisation (GEBO).

The 44th Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF) will be held from 23 January to 5 February at the fair ground in Nasr City, with the expected participation of 25 countries, including 17 Arab countries. Libya is this year's guest of honour.

GEBO has been the official sponsor and organiser of the CIBF for many years.

GEBO director Ahmed Megahed said at a press conference on Tuesday that the fair will not close on Friday 25 January,  when mass protests are planned to take place in Cairo to mark the second anniversary of January 25 Revolution.

Megahed said that the book-selling section of the fair will continue as normal, but that the cultural and artistic activities will be reduced to half their normal level on that day.

Prior to the revolution, ousted president Hosni Mubarak would inaugurate the fair every year and hold a meeting with Egypt's most famous writers. The fair used to be closed to the public on inauguration day, due to the security restrictions imposed by the presence of the president.  

"The fair won't halt its activities on 25 January; we're in a constant contact with the Ministry of Interior and in addition to that we have a contract with a private security company," Megahed said.

"This year's fair is guaranteed with an insurance policy worth LE100 million (approx. $16 million) so the fair is protected and immune from any financial losses," he explained.

Last year, the fair closed its doors on 25 and 26 January for security reasons as it coincided with the first anniversary of the January 25 Revolution.

This year's theme is "Dialogue not Clash", and the 2013 event will host 735 publishers including 498 from Egypt, 210 from the Arab world and 27 from non-Arab countries.

Ahram Online took a sneak peak at the venue. Open exhibition tents are still being established and no halls have yet been set up.

The fairground halls were demolished last year to be rebuilt in a modern shape. World-famous architect Zaha Hadid is said to be designing the new halls.

This year sees a particularly packed cultural programme, including caricature and plastic arts galleries. Some events will also deal with the political debates taking place in Egypt currently.

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