Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour inaugurated the 45th Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF) on January 25th. Despite fears of renewed protests, prompting security concerns over the viability of the Arab world’s largest book fair the event was concluded without any incident.
Ongoing political turmoil in Egypt has meant bad business for the book fair. It was cancelled in 2011 after the outbreak of the 25 January Revolution, and then closed on the revolution’s first anniversary the following year amidst renewed protests. The fair went ahead as scheduled in 2013, but with a limited schedule of cultural activities.
This year’s festival was held from 22 January to 6 February, two days longer than originally planned, with no halts in selling or activities, regardless of protests.
The theme of this year’s fair was Culture and Identity. The event saw participation from 24 different countries and over 700 publishers, 500 of which are Egyptian.
Kuwait is this year’s guest of honour, after Libya last year.
Ahmed Megahed, head of the General Egyptian Book Organisation (GEBO), vowed in a press conference on 23 December that the fair will not be affected by the country’s ongoing political turmoil. Megahed said that Qatari and Turkish participation in the fair will go ahead as usual and that their publishers will be treated like any other book sellers.
One of the highlights of the event was commemorating Taha Hussein as Cairo’s book Fair Person of the Year. To celebrate the occasion, GEBO has announced that it will publish 20 of Hussein’s rarest books.