Bahrain: Book fair and castle!


AWAY from politics, away from the economy, as far as possible, I like to visit book fairs in the Arab world. I know quite well the suffering of writers and the challenges of publishing houses in dealing with the variables and habits of reading during a time of transformation. Every book exhibition has to present itself as “different” and “attractive” to capture the interests of readers and visitors.

There is a big difference between the book fair as an opportunity to sell and manage the largest number of copies of books and an exhibition which is presented as an integrated cultural event, combining the presentation and sale of books and holding events suitable for the occasion. In terms of quantity and numbers, there are many book fairs held in the Arab world. Some countries even hold more than one exhibition in the same year, and most of them are mainly copies, repetition and explicit imitation.

Some of them focus on size for the purpose of show-off, including those who focus on the “hall” for the same purpose. Most of these exhibitions are held in “boring” and “repetitively,” similar halls and similar typical suites and so similar to each other. So I was pleasantly surprised over the launch of the Bahrain Culture and Archeology, the 18th Bahrain International Book Fair, in an exquisite tent designed beautifully next to the historic archaeological fortress of Arad, one of the most important World Heritage sites in the Arabian Gulf region, making the site of the event as important as the event itself. It takes a genius to choose a place like this.

Reading in addition to being food for the soul, organizers of the Bahrain Book Fair have cleverly added to the experience where the reading opportunity can also be fun for the senses, especially contemplating the beauty of looking at a splendid location that features authenticity, history and art. The exhibition hosts more than 400 different publishers from more than 26 countries around the world and the guest of honor for this year’s exhibition is Saudi Arabia.

The exhibition is designed in a stylish and smooth way that allows the visitor to enjoy the experience without harassment and inconvenience. This particular part took into account the cultural aspect that is required to accompany a cultural event of this special kind. This is particularly a striking point with the sad transformation, of the scenes of book fairs around the Arab world, what resembles the wholesale markets, the books are presented as goods that are like livestock, vegetable and fish.

One of the most important events of this year’s exhibition is the launch of the book “Dilmunia Kingdom of Bahrain” in Arabic by French author, the world famous Gilbert Sinoue, known for his historical accounts of the world’s various civilizations. The book will be published in English and French as well.

The exhibition is a “breath of pure air” amid the pollution, noise, disturbance and deaf ears around the Arab world. It should be noted that the exhibition has not been missed by presenting a program in which lectures and cultural seminars and honoring the personalities and events of art and musical performances and pavilion for children is meticulously designed and humane. The choice of Arad Castle and its adjacent modern heritage tent is to be the location of the book fair is an intelligent idea and a pleasant break for the monotony and reflection outside the box to deal with a traditional occasion.

It is this type of idea that distinguishes its owners and makes them stand out more than others. Creativity and excellence have no limits and the ability to implement them is what makes the difference between those who talk theoretical and those who implement.