Muscat: Once again, it’s time to pop a can of soda, pick up a favourite title, curl up on the couch and just read. It is time to become completely immersed in the habit of reading, as the Muscat International Book Fair has begun at the Oman International Exhibition Centre, and has again proven to be a real treat for book lovers, especially Arabic language readers.
Hundreds of book sellers and publishers from the GCC and beyond are taking part in the fair, with over 250,000 titles,which include 100,000 new books.
Sakina Al Lawati, an avid reader, had been saving up for this fair for the last two months because she wanted to buy as many books as she could lay her hands on.
“I developed the habit of reading only about a year ago, and I must say that reading has helped me so much, with thinking better and changing my opinion about so many things. I saved up for this fair because I knew that I will be able to find my favourite books here, as I don’t normally find them at bookshops in Muscat.”
Promoting local authors
Meanwhile, Humaid Al Amri, an Omani filmmaker, was able to publish his first book,entitled ‘Scenes from Omani Cinema’, with its launch at the fair, and has received tremendous response.
“On the first day of the launch, so many people came to me and asked me lots of questions about the book and about Omani cinema. They were really keen about getting to know as much as they could about the history of cinema in Oman. Also, because there are not as many books on films in Oman, people were anticipating this launch so they might gain more information on the subject,” said Al Amri.
Perfect launch platform
Al Amri has published a thousand copies of the book in its first edition. “I think the Muscat International Book Fair was the perfect platform to launch my book, since it is the only festival for reading in Oman, and this time it is even bigger. I hope that more people will come and buy my book, which is priced at a minimal OMR3.”
Mohsen Al Hudhaili, an architect and a resident of Muscat, who is originally from Algeria, was able to launch his first book,entitled ‘Risha al Asfoor’, a story for children about a boy who loves birds at the fair. “The book was published by ‘Dar Al-Hadaiq’, a popular publishing company from Lebanon which specialises in children’s books, and I have been able to sell 50 copies of the book, as of now,” noted Al Hudhaili.
“There is a huge demand for good quality children’s books at the fair, and I am happy to contribute towards the cause.” Al Hudhaili is also planning to write more books, after this first success.
Major attractions this year include halls for cultural events and a corner for children’s programmes and events. There is also an application for smart phones, to allow users to view activities at the fair.
The fair continues until March 5, and will be open to the public from Wednesday, running from 10 am until 10 pm. On Fridays, the fair will be open from 4 pm to 10 pm. There are 650 participants, which include publishers from 27 countries, compared with 441 publishers from 24 countries last year, and is spread over 8,550 sqm.
Visiting times set aside only for students are from 10 am to 4 pm on Monday, February 29, and Wednesday, March 2.Visiting times just for women and female students are from 10 am to 4 pm on Tuesday, March 1, and Thursday, March 3.