Cairo’s Substitute ‘Ramadan Book Fair’ Begins Friday

I won’t make the opening week of the 2011 “not a substitute for the Cairo International Book Fair” Fair, as it coincides with the annual ArabLit summer vacation.*

But the second half of the August 5-25 fair will be hard to resist.

It won’t be the same as Cairo’s January book fair/moulid: This fair will feature books from just 85 of Egypt’s 400+ publishing houses, in addition to 11 publishers from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the KSA, and Algeria who probably hadn’t retrieved their books since January. The fair does offer 20-50 percent off, but Cairo’s major bookstores are also offering deep summer discounts.

Also, this fair will be held on crowded Faisal Street—not the fairgrounds—with a split schedule of 11am – 4pm and 9pm – 1am. The whole thing will require good deal of effort from the 85 participating publishers.

Fatima al-Boudi, the owner of Dar al-Ain publishing, said that’s one reason she won’t sell her books at the fair. She told Al Masry Al Youm:

It will be more costly, and the morning shift will receive minimal visitors, given the heat. … People usually read religious books during Ramadan, rather than literature or intellectual books. This fair will only serve Salafi publishing houses.

Nonetheless, al-Boudi will speak at a panel on August 25, and there are some interesting events. And, well, it is a book fair.

Schedule from Ahram Online, with my comments and links:

Friday 5 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Opening ceremony

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Nile Band

Saturday 6 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Revolution Youth Coalition talk, featuring guests from 6 April Youth Movement, ElBaradei Campaign, Muslim Brotherhood youth

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Egyptian band with music and singing

Sunday 7 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Poets Evening, featuring renown Egyptian poets including Abdel-Moety Hegazy, Bahaa Gajeen and others (Read Hegazy on free verse, in this article by Youssef Rakha. )

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Banadra Band for Arabic takht music

Monday 8 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Egyptian novels evening, featuring authors including Amina Zeidan, Gamal Zaki Makar and Hamdi Abu Golayel. (My review of Amina Zaydan’s Red Wine and Ursula Lindsey’s review of Abu Golayel’s A Dog with No Tail.)

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Hala Band (street stage)

Tuesday 9 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Discussion about trade unions and legal statutes

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: “Korsi” theatre performance, followed by singing by artist Sherine

Wednesday 10 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Cultural views in political parties platform, featuring representatives from the Freedom and Justice party of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Socialist Party, the Democratic Front party

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Monufia band with Arabic music

Thursday 11 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Second poets night, featuring Farouk Shousha and others (A profile of Farouk Shousha in Al-Ahram Weekly)

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Azza Balbaa and an evening of singing for love of the nation

Friday 12 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Discussion about the stage and the street

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Marionette puppet show

Saturday 13 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Discussion about Al-Azhar manifesto, featuring representatives from various religious groups

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Baraweez band with Nubian Music

Sunday 14 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Egyptian media evening, featuring presenters of famous TV shows such as Yousry Fouday, Farida Shoubashy and Safwat El-Alem

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Singing

Monday 15 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Poets evening, including guest Amgad Said from Iraq

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Sawaki band

Tuesday 16 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Egyptian Cinema and its crisis, featuring famous director Ali Badrakhan and others (Egyptian filmmakers’ statement by Ali Badrakhan, Tahrir.)

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Tannura dance band

Wednesday 17 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Intellectuals and the public, featuring politicians and thinkers including Amr Hamzawy , Ammar Ali Hassan  and Hala Moustafa.

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Poetry reading

Thursday 18 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Caricature in the square, featuring famous cartoonists including Amr Selim and Ahmed Anwar among others. (Amr Selim profiled at Al Ahram Weekly in “Of cartoons and revolution.” )

11:30 pm – 1:00 am:  Ramy Essam, “singer of the square” (Essam on YouTube.)

Friday 19 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Poets night

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Evening with an Egyptian clown

Saturday 20 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Social networking and the revolution

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Singer Ali El-Helbawy (El-Helbawy on YouTube.)

Sunday 21 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Journalism after January 25 Revolution, featuring famous journalists and editors such as Ibrahim Eissa , Khaled El-Balshy and Wael Kandil among others.

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Alexandrian singer Ibrahim

Monday 22 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Sitcom phenomenon, featuring actors from famous sitcoms

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Shakawy Choir

Tuesday 23 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Poets evening, featuring renown poet Sayed Hegab among others (Profile of Sayed Hegab in Al Ahram: “Son of a widowed city.” He said he views himself as a “professional reader and an amateur poet,” and added, “”I do not write poetry unless it attacks me, though I dedicate all my time and senses to it. But I wait for it to come as a dear visitor.” )

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Evening with singer Ahmed Ali El-Haggar

Wednesday 24 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: Towards an Egyptian Cultural Constitution

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Religious singing by the central band of the Cultural Palaces

Thursday 25 August

9:30 – 11:00 pm: The future of the book – between publishing and distribution, featuring publishers including Fatma El-Boudy from Al-Ain, Saad Abdel-Rahman from the Cultural Palaces and others

11:30 pm – 1:00 am: Eskenderella band

*I will be gone from August 5-12; no, it has nothing to do with Mubarak’s trial; and please don’t burgle my apartment. But if you would like to scribble about Arabic literature (in translation or otherwise) in my absence, please do.


  1. Yay (minus the note about serving Salafi publishing houses)! Do you know if/when the book fair will come to Alex this time?

    1. They said they’re hosting book fairs around the country, but then I only saw an announcement about Aswan… Will certainly say if I see anything. Good excuse for a trip north!

  2. Farouk Shousha, Abdilmu`ti Higazy? I guess the cultural sphere is still pre-revolution

    1. You read Youssef’s piece, right? Although did you see the novel conference rundown back pre-Jan25? This is better. At least you can hear Ramy Essam’s singing here.

      And an evening with an Egyptian clown! Maybe I’ll go for that.

  3. Hi Marcia, I live 5 mins from where the book fair is being held, so let me know if you’re coming down and we can have a coffee or something. I’ll be away from the 19th though

    1. OK, I’m looking at the schedule…maybe the 18th looks like the most fun? I’ll let you know. And you’ll have to tell me how chaotic it looks. Maybe you can take a few pictures??

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