Sana’a 22nd Book Fair opened [Archives:2005/878/Culture]

September 19 2005

The functions of the 22nd Round of the Sana'a International Book Fair kicked off on Thursday September 15, 2005. It was inaugurated by Vice-President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Lasting until 28 of this month, the Book Fair has been contributed to by some 358 publishers and cultural organizations from all over the world in comparison to 320 ones last year.

Under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Book Fair includes about 132 thousand titles on different realms of knowledge, religious, philosophical, scientific, human, theoretical and practical.

On the sidelines of the Fair, a number of intellectual celebrities will be introduced such as Palestinian poet Mahoud Dorwish and French Muslim thinker Roget Jaroudi. According to the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Dorwish shall conclude the activities of the Fair with a recital of his poetry.

Other prominent guests are critic Kamal Abu Deeb, Sudanese novelist Al-Tayib Saleh and Saudi writer Abdullah al-Jafri, in addition to many other writers. Kuwaiti story writer Laila al-Othman is expected to autograph her book on Yemen, “Days in Yemen,” in which she spelled out her admiration of Yemeni people and nature.

Figures reveal that national publishers mount to 37. Egyptian publishing houses are on top of the list of Arab and international participants in the Fair with one hundred publishing houses, libraries and private and state-owned organizations a number higher than last year by 16. Lebanon comes second with 57 publishing houses, then Syria with (37) while Jordanian are 34. Saudi publishers number 30, and those from UAE are nine, and the first Palestinian participation includes five publishers. Kuwait has offered four, Sultanate of Oman three, Sudan and Libya two each, and Tunis one.

The Fair also features the production of some twelve publishers from Britain, eight from the USA, two from India. France and Greece offered one publisher each.

While the catchment of the current Book Fair is not yet known, that of last year is estimated to have drawn in some 1.3 million visitors with total returns of half a billion riyals.

On the sideline of the Book Fair, the Ministry of Culture is planning to mark the launch of the full works of some Yemeni writers, thinkers and poets. Among these are late revolutionist poet and thinker Mohammed Mahmoud al-Zubairi, known as Father of the Free, and late poet Abdullah al-Baradouni.

Other names include renown Yemeni literary figure Dr. Abdulaziz al-Maqaleh, Dr. Abdu Othman, and poet Hassan Abdullah al-Sharafi.

Khalid al-Ruwaishan has said about 7% of books exhibited are recent publications meeting scientific, social, literary and religious demand of readers, beside children books and electronic chips to be sold with acceptable prices.

Students visiting the Fair told Yemen Times they were unable to buy scientific books in the fair because of their high prices. Selling of books in the first days was mainly to establishments, organizations, and little individual purchasing.

Yemen Times visited the Book Fair at Expo canvassing and recording peoples impressions both publishers and readership.

Notable censorship:

Ali Hamoud, carrying five books in his hands, said this year's Fair is quite good except that it has a little bit higher price. “This year, books are manifold and are similar in price to last year's except for a slight rise in price. We can also notice the disappearance of certain titles which means that there is censorship although we live in a free globalized world.” He confesses that the number of people visiting the Fair is lower than last year. “Comparing the flow of public into the exhibition, I can infer that the number is less than last year. Price hike is the reason, I believe.”

Inadequate advertisement:

Hisham Mohammed Diab, of Alexandria-based al-Isha'a House, said that the Fair is “good.” However, he thinks that advertisement is not sufficient. “The Fair lacks in adequate advertisement and publicity. Many people don't know about the Fair. This year, the public flow is not that much in comparison to previous years.” This is his third participation. Yet, he is hopeful that the coming days of the Fair will see more new visitors and “profits”. He admits that the number of books has increased but that some titles have disappeared.

Abdullah Ibrahim, representative of the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education and supervisor of the Saudi wing, said that 14 entities contribute to the 90-square-meter wing such as the King Fahd Complex for Printing the Holy Qur'an, which distributes editions of the holy Qur'an for free, and which has produced some 208 million editions of the Holy Qur'an translated into a variety of languages. He added that people gush over the Saudi Wing because it provides reliable books at affordable prices. “The Wing also helps improve the fraternal relationships between the Yemeni and Saudi peoples and governments,” he concluded.

Mohammed bin Salman, of Hadhramout House for Studies and Publishing, said that this year's Fair is better than the previous ones because new houses have partaken. “So far, it is acceptable,” he said.

Debut Palestinian appearance:

“This fair is distinctive,” said Mohammed al-Asmar, manager of the Palestinian wing in the Fair. “This is the first chance for the Yemeni reader to see Palestinian creation in different fields from criticism, science, politics, ..etc.”