After two years of pandemic, Muscat book fair a great place to meet people once again

Oman Sunday 06/March/2022 20:59 PM
By: Times News Service
After two years of pandemic, Muscat book fair a great place to meet people once again

Muscat: Visitors to the Muscat International Book Fair and authors who exhibited their works at the event have said that it offered them the chance to once again meet and interact at large scale events, after curtailing such activities for two years owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Omani author Ammar Al Naaimi was promoting his book Sarim at the event. The book is about young Omanis who discover they have otherworldly powers, and use them to keep the rest of the society away from danger.

“Meeting people has been huge,” he said. “There are so many people who have been following me on social media, but who I’ve never met in person. They all have amazing opinions on books. On a broader level, I really like to compare the book fair to Disneyland for readers.

The vibe here is overwhelming and disorienting, but in the best way possible. It’s a delight.”

“The Muscat International Book Fair gave us a platform that most people in Oman visit at least once,” he admitted. “The reading community in Oman is very fragmented and it can be hard to reach everyone, so having a stall allows us to talk to people we might otherwise miss. It’s also a great chance to excite everyone and chat with publishing houses and bookstores. I was glad to be there alongside my local distributors, Family Book Shop.”

Ammar, who was present at the book fair, which ran from 24 February to 5 March, every day from 10 am to 10pm, said the book fair also presented him and other authors a great opportunity to meet people personally.

“It’s been a real chance to talk to readers about their likes and dislikes,” he added. “In terms of feedback, I’m enjoying the surprise on people’s faces when I tell them about the book. Another amazing experience was getting in-person reviews from people who have already read Sarim, and to hear which character was their favourite.”

Ammar’s thoughts were shared by others who went to the book fair, and delighted at the chance to meet those who shared the same preferences as them, while also interacting with some of their favourite local authors.

“More often than not, all you see of an author is the picture on the back of the book cover,” said Ismail, an Omani employed in academics.

“Here, we had the chance to meet many young authors. I think it really helps them as well, because the personal connection really helps you understand the books they write, and you are then keener to explore the worlds in their books.

“This human connection is something we dearly lost during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. “The last two years have been really challenging for all of us, and I think it will make us appreciate the simple things better.”

Teresa, a Filipino expat, added: “My friends and I were always very keen to come here, because there is so much for your mind to absorb.

It’s a great place to go with friends, because all of us have different tastes in books, and so can recommend good books to each other. It would be great if there were other such events because reading is truly an amazing quality.”