Unconfirmed reports suggest the Cairo International Book Fair is set to break world book fair visitor attendance records, with 2.5 million visitors so far, and still several days to run.
If confirmed then this already puts Cairo ahead of rivals Sharjah (UAE), which recorded 2.38 million visitors last year, and Kolkata (India), traditionally the biggest book fair by attendance, at 2.4 million.
The Kolkata International Book Fair is happening in India at the same time as the Egypt fair (and also at the same time as the Bangladesh Ekushey Boi Mela Fair, and the Havana International Book Fair in Cuba, and the Lahore International Book Fair in Pakistan, and… ).
The 2.5 million Cairo figure, boosted by a 400,000 turnout on Friday, was announced by Haitham al-Hajj Ali, the head of the General Egyptian Book Organization, according to Egypt Today.
Daily News Egypt previously reported turnout of 300,000 on the first day and 350,000 on day two of the event, which commenced January 26.
Theatre shows, cinemas, and fine art exhibitions, along with an increased selection of children’s books, will be drawing the crowds, but I’ll be waiting for a formal confirmation from Haitham al-Hajj Ali before declaring Cairo officially the world’s biggest book fair.
And I would add a proviso that the numbers are still to come for Kolkata and the recently-ended New Delhi World Book Fair, both contenders for the crown.
Whatever the final numbers, this is a great way to kick off the Arab book fair season.
Also happening this month on the Arab book fair circuit will be the Casablanca International Book Fair in Morocco, which usually gets a mere 350,000 visitors, the Muscat International Book Fair in Oman, which typically sees 850,000 visitors, and the debut Al Qassim Book Fair in Saudi Arabia.