Year after year, the Cairo International Book Fair has remained a cultural hub for readers of all age groups. From the day of its inauguration, and throughout its evolution to what it has become today, various people from different cities and governorates across Egypt make it a point not to miss visiting the fair, touring around its numerous pavilions, meeting with authors and other avid readers, and going back to their homes happy with a lot of great catches to add to their library shelves, and of course, an enjoyable experience.
Digging Deep into the History of the Cairo International Book Fair
The Cairo International Book Fair was first inaugurated in 1969, coinciding with Cairo’s celebration of its millennium anniversary. The then Minister of Culture, Tharwat Okasha decided to celebrate this occasion culturally, where he assigned researcher Suhair Al Qalamawi to supervise the establishment of the first book fair, and for so, the 2008 edition celebrated Al Qalamawi as the personality of that year. In 2006, the Cairo International Book Fair had already succeeded in positioning itself as one of the largest book fairs in the Middle East and the second-largest exhibition after the Frankfurt International Book Fair.
A Leap into the Present
This year, the Cairo International Book Fair witnessed unprecedented success in its 55th edition. Held at Egypt International Exhibitions Center, the book fair was home to 1047 publishing houses present across 918 pavilions in the center’s massive halls. Additionally, this year witnessed a huge number of visitors reaching 3.5 million in 9 days of the fair, surpassing the total number of visitors last year in total.
For this year, Selim Hassan, the acclaimed Egyptologist who wrote several books was chosen as the main personality for this edition of the fair while Yacoub El Sharouny was named the personality of the year for the children’s exhibition at the Fair. Worth highlighting that Norway was the Guest of Honor at the 55th edition of the fair.
This year, the Cairo International Book Fair surpassed previous years, making this edition the most successful yet and it is for many reasons.
Fruitful Cooperation Coming to Life
On the sidelines of the book fair, the Egyptian Minister of Culture, Dr. Nevin Al Kilani, and Venezuelan Minister of Culture, Ernesto Villegas signed a cultural cooperation aiming to foster cultural exchange and cooperation between both countries across various fields including literature, theater, art, music, and cinema. In addition, within the framework of the agreement, Egypt and Venezuela are to cooperate on the organization of joint events.
An Exchange of Ideas & Cultures
The book fair has proved day after day this year, that its purpose doesn’t solely revolve around book selling but rather acting as a cultural hub, where great minds come together to discuss different topics. This edition brought 550 cultural events, including meetings with creators, writers, thinkers, artists hosted daily seminars and panel discussions moderated and attended by prominent figures not only in Egypt but also from different countries around the world. Spanish writer Carmen Ruiz was among the attendees in a panel discussion where she spoke about her admiration of Middle Eastern culture. Additionally, several seminars were held in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
A Special Focus on Children
The little ones had their share of attention and focus on the 55th edition of the book fair. Besides the activities held to keep the little guests entertained while the adults go shopping, there were several workshops dedicated to children to teach about child safety. In addition, kids engaged in several activities such as drawing and painting. Worth mentioning the extensive collection of children’s books that were available at this year’s fair.
Cultures Intertwined, Arts Unleashed
There was more than a fair share of art during the 55th edition of the Cairo International Book Fair. This year, several artistic programs were carried out to support talents in different types of art whether singing, folk dancing, artistic performance, or others. The fair also focused on providing opportunities for creatives with disabilities. Worth mentioning, the fair also hosted a number of magnificent performances carried out by talents from Norway, this year’s guest of honor. Additionally, the fair dedicated a day to pay homage to Palestinian heritage, history, and culture.
A Variety of Activities and Entertainment
Full of vibrancy and happy vibes, the Cairo International Book Fair will astound you with its lively atmosphere that goes far beyond exploring books. The book fair ensured all visitors were having a great time throughout the day with a variety of live performances and shows. Additionally, guests can spend the entire day there and take breaks in between their book shopping spree while enjoying food and drinks at the wide array of food stalls and booths available in the outdoor area.
This year, Cairo International Book Fair took a step forward towards digitalization with the launch of the website and the ability to book your ticket online to save visitors and guests the time spent in long queues due to the enormous number of visitors. Guests could also visit the website to have a virtual tour of the fair so that they become familiar with the halls before they go, making it easier to know where their favorite publisher is or which halls they would want to visit first. The best thing this year is that people can shop their books online through the website and have their order delivered to them by Egypt Post. Additionally, the FB page of the Cairo International Book Fair had up-to-the-minute updates on every seminar, panel discussion, or activity taking place so that guests could go and attend in addition to sharing the latest news on the book fair.
To sum it up, there is no doubt that this year’s edition has broken all the records of success on so many levels. Whether it was the digitalization process, the curation of an experience, the events, activations, and talks, or the prominent figures and guests of honor who were present on different days of the fair. This success has raised the bar high for upcoming editions, and we are confident that more progress, achievements, and successes are yet to come.