Despite censorship controversy Kuwait International Book Fair attracted 300,000 visitors. MENA on target for 10-15 million visitors this Arab book fair season

The Kuwait News Agency report extolling the success of the 43rd Kuwait International Book Fair carefully avoided any reference to the censorship controversy that beleaguered the event.

But it did mention that the Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Mohammad Al-Jabri  had held,

a meeting with the organizers to go over any difficulties faced in this year’s fair and to further develop them for next year to elevate its productivity and focus more on the value and quality of participating publications and books.

Hard to imagine the international scorn over Kuwait’s ham-fisted censorship was not a key topic in that debate.

Al-Jabri  reported this year’s book fair fielded,

505 Arab and foreign publishers present from 26 countries, 35 governmental bodies, 14 reading clubs and 12 regional and Arab organizations, and more than 300,000 visitors.

No word on sales yet, but one might imagine that, with 300,000 visitors, the sales were significant.

The 300,000 visitors can be added to the 2.2 million that attended the Algiers International Book Fair and the 2.23 million that attended the Sharjah International Book Fair, making a total of over 4.7 million visitors to three Arab literary events to kick off the 2018-19 Arab book fair season.

If the Cairo International Book Fair in January repeats its 2018 success it could take us close to 10 million, and with many more major Arab fairs and festivals to come we could yet see the final visitor count approach 15 million.

Not bad going for a region where, or so conventional wisdom has it, nobody reads.

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