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53rd Cairo International Book Fair goes High-tech

The 53rd edition of Cairo International Book Fair was inaugurated by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly at Egypt International Exhibition Center (EIEC), on 26th January, 2022, under the slogan Egypt’s Identity: Culture and the Question of the Future. The event which concludes on 7 February, 2022, is recognized as one of the largest and oldest book fairs in the Arab world.

Cairo International Book Fair

A total of over 1000 publishers, distributors, and publishing agencies from more than 51 countries are participating in this year’s edition which features 879 pavilions in five halls. Prominent litterateurs from across the Arab world, including Moroccan novelist, poet, and translator Ahmad Al-Madini; Sudanese novelist Amir Taj al-Sir; Lebanese novelist Hoda Barakat, and Palestinian journalist, novelist, and writer Rabai Al-Madhoun are the invitees.

Greece is the current edition’s guest of honour as part of a cultural programme that includes discusion of publications and translated works on ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations. The Greek pavilion hosts a special tribute to Greek poet Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933), considered to be one of the greatest Greek poets of the 20th century.

Cairo International Book Fair

At another event, a special tribute also honours Taha Hussein (1889-1973), the “Dean of Arabic Literature,” who was one of the most influential 20th-century Egyptian writers and intellectuals, and a figurehead for the Egyptian Renaissance and the modernist movement in the Middle East and North Africa.

The General Egyptian Book Authority’s ‘Digital Book’ project begins with the comprehensive 16-volume Encylopedia of Ancient Egypt by famous Egyptologist Selim Hassan (1886-1961).

Minister of Culture Ines Abdel Dayem expressed her happiness with the huge public response the book fair witnessed on the very first day despite the COVID-19 crisis, registering more than 91,000 visitors and another 44.5 million who visited online.

Dr. Haitham Al-Hajj Ali, President of the Egyptian General Book Authority, announced that the digital platform of the book fair recorded nearly 44.5 million visits on the inaugural day from countries including Egypt, Germany, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK, and USA.

The 53rd Cairo book fair has made use of artificial intelligence (AI) in interesting ways to keep the crowds absorbed. The late Egyptian writer and novelist Yahya Haqqi (1905-1992), chosen as the ‘personality’ of this year’s book fair will “appear” as a hologram for an interactive session with the audience. Late Egyptian author, translator, and academic publisher Abdel Tawab Youssef (1928-2015) is chosen as ‘personality’ of the children’s book section, where youngsters get to watch one of Youssef’s stories with the help of VR glasses.

Another first of the book fair is an award for the ‘Best Arab Publisher’. Books are also being sold online through the exhibition’s digital platform, with delivery services arranged by the Ministry of Communications through Egypt Post to any place inside the country.

Also featuring are various programmes aimed at advancing the development of the publishing industry and speeding it up with the times, and providing a professional and specialized platform for publishers and those working in the book industry.

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