Major book fair opens in Bahrain
Manama, December 27, 2012
A major book fair, featuring various stalls with a large variety of books covering topics from politics, philosophy and religion to a large selection of children's books opened in Bahrain yesterday.
The 19th Al Ayam Book Fair was opened yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Mohamed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa in the presence of ministers and officials, said a report in our sister publication the Gulf Daily News.
The eight-day event, being held at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre (BIECC), has attracted publishers and booksellers from across the Middle East, primarily from Lebanon and Egypt.
Some stalls even offer Arabic translations of popular young adult novels, such as The Hunger Games and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Participants at the fair said there was an abundance of books published in the last few years compared with the past, however, the number of readers have not seemed to increase.
"The importance of reading seems to have decreased," said Lebanon-based bookseller Ali Machlab. "Especially with the younger generations. Technology seems to have taken over."
Syria-based Oukba Al Kheder, who has been taking part in the fair for the last six years, stressed that families should take the initiative to encourage their children's reading habits.
"We need to create a culture of children who read a lot," he said. "Parents could do that by giving their children little gifts when they finish a difficult book, or by asking about what they've read."
His comments were reiterated by another publisher, Lebanon-based Mohammed Dakhil.
"Our demograpy is usually above 30 years old," he said. "If we get university-age students, they generally just look for a specific book required for a course. They rarely browse or buy anything of general interest."
Bahrain-based Majestic Promotion, which also had a stand at the fair, said they worked towards integrating books and technology to meet the demands of young readers.
"We have a 'wish list' when we visit schools for book fairs so that students can tell us what books they want us to bring in," said company employee Senthil Kumar.
"We have books that have an electronic pen that come with them. When you press the pen to a point on the page, it will read the page out. It's very helpful for children who are just starting to read alone."
The fair has primarily Arabic books, but there are several stands selling English books.
It will run until January 3 and will be open daily from 9am until 1pm, and from 5pm until 10pm. On Fridays, it will be open from 9am until 1pm and 4pm to 10pm. – TradeArabia News Service