The General Egyptian Book Organization (GEBO) is hosting its second Ramadan book fair in Faisal Street in Giza. The first Ramadan book fair was held last year in the same place. When Cairo’s annual book fair was cancelled last year, this alternative fair offered some consolation for the avid book readers who waited for the annual event.
While the Ramadan Book Fair last year was no match for Cairo’s annual International Book Fair normally held in the vast space of the International Fair Grounds, the efforts to create a cultural experience for people during Ramadan was so successful that a new tradition was born.
Both the Cairo International Book Fair and the Ramadan Book Fair are organized by GEBO and even though the Ramadan Book Fair will only be entering its second year this year, the former was held for the 43rd time last January, making it the oldest book fair in the Arab World.
The Ramadan Book Fair was never intended to replace the Cairo International Book Fair. It was held in order to create cultural, artistic and political momentum, said Dr. Ahmed Megahed, Head of the GEBO on the website of the Cairo International Book Fair. Last year the fair generated EGP 300,000 in sales and featured 20 new book releases by GEBO, said Megahed.
According to a survey conducted by GEBO, more than 80% of the people asked approved of the timing chosen to hold this second book fair and over 70% approved of holding it annually in Ramadan which explains this second edition. To improve last year’s experience, GEBO intends to create a larger and cleaner area to feature this year’s event.
Only 85 publishers took part in the Ramadan Book Fair last year, all except 11 being Egyptian publishing houses.According to state-run Ahram Online, 200 publishers will represent their authors this year which promises the fair will be a much bigger event with a greater variety of books to choose from. The Ramadan Book Fair starts today and will run until the 22nd day of Ramadan.
The Ramadan Book Fair is open from 11 in the morning to four in the afternoon when it closes for Iftar. At eight pm all stalls are filled again for the after-Iftar crowd and until one in the morning you are welcome to choose a book to enjoy with your shisha.
The Ramadan Book Fair features the latest publications by the GEBO and are sold at a significant discount. Last year a large array of extra activities were organised during the fair, from musical performances by Azza Balba, tanoura and puppet shows to seminars and discussions on political and cultural affairs in Egypt.
Adding some culture to your evening after Iftar without visiting a Ramadan tent is not that easy to accomplish, but with more than double the participants this year the Ramadan Book Fair promises to be an event not to be missed.