For Indie Bookstore Day: 33 Great Arab Bookshops Recommended by Writers, Translators, and Scholars

Beginning with Algiers due to the Anglophone alphabet. Please email your suggestions or add them in the comments:


bookshop1–>Librairie Idjtihed – الاجتهاد ( Algiers, 9 rue Hamani Arezki)

–>La librairie Braham Maison de la Presse (Algiers, 63 rue Larbi Ben M’hidi)

These are the two favorite independent bookshops in Algiers from translator-scholar Nadia Ghanem, who says, “there are bookstores opened by state publishers (ENAG, ANEP) and by publishing houses (ex Chihab eds, Dalimen eds, Barzakh eds have their own publishing houses in Algiers). The others are your regular indie bookshop I think (that said, I don’t know the extent of state funding to bookstores, perhaps making the ‘independence’ of some relative).”

–>Librairie du Tiers Monde (Algiers)

On Pl Abdelkader, recommended by scholar DJ Wrisley.


–>Kotob Khan  (Maadi, Cairo)

A great independent bookshop and cultural hub, managed by publisher Karam Youssef. Plus, Kotob Khan is a place “where a book can feel safe.”

–>Balsam Bookstore (Mohandiseen, Cairo)

The best indie bookshop — and bookshop, full stop — for children’s books in Cairo, managed by publisher Balsam Saad.

Note: There are too many great bookshops in Cairo to mention; many of them are listed at The two above are recommended by ArabLit’s M. Lynx Qualey.


–>Saqi Books (London)

Recommended by Raph Cormack, who adds “obviously.”

–>The Maghreb Bookshop (London)

Recommended by librarian-scholar Daniel Löwe.

–>Dar al-Hikmah (London)

Also recommended by Löwe, apparently right next to the British Library.


–>Librairie de L’Orient (Paris)

–>The IMA bookshop (Paris)

Both recommended by translator Sampsa Peltonen.


–>Libreria GRIOT (Rome)

According to the editor of ArabLit’s Italian twin, Chiara Comito, Griot is “an indie bookshop dedicated to Arab and African literature and books. They also have started to sell books in Arabic, very recently.”


–>Iwan Bookshop (Amman)

–>Readers Bookshop (Amman)

–>Al-Talee’a Bookstore (Amman)

–>Al-Feeniq Bookstore (Irbid)

All recommended by Jordanian short-story writer Hisham Bustani.

–>Books@ (Amman)

Recommended by poet-scholar Nomi Stone.


–>Beesan Bookshop – مكتبة بيسان (Beirut)

Recommended by author Lina Mounzer, who says, “They have every Arabic book you can dream of.” She adds: “You can also walk straight into the publishers’ offices and find books (Dar al-Jamal, Riad al-Rayess, Saqi…).”

–>Dawawine (Beirut)

Recommended by poet-translator Omar Berrada.


–>Darf (Tripoli)

Recommended by translator-journalist Valentina Viene.


–>Librairie des Colonnes (Tangier)

Recommended by poet-translator Omar Berrada as “gorgeous and multilingual.”

–>Third Millennium Bookshop – مكتبة الألفية الثالثة (Rabat)

Berrada’s recommendation: “has a huge selection of books in Arabic.”

–>Kulte Gallery & Editions (Rabat)

This bookshop, he says, “is quietly turning itself into the best art bookstore (and publisher).”

::’48 Palestine, Israel::

–>The Educational Bookshop and Cafe (Jerusalem)

On Sallahaddin street in East Jerusalem, this is recommended by poet-translator Lynley Shimat Lys and graffiti artist-writer Don Stone.

–>Yafa Bookstore & Coffee Shop (Jaffa)

Offers Arabic courses and books; recommended by scholar Uri Horesh.

::Saudi Arabia::

–>Heritage Bookshop – المكتبة التراثية (Riyadh)

–>Bridges – جسور (Jeddah)

Both these suggestions come from author-translator Tariq Al Haydar.


–>WordPower Books (Edinburgh)

Not an Arabic bookshop. However, it gets an honorable mention from translator-scholar Sarah Irving for their “really impressive range of Arabic lit in translation.”


–>Al Waraqin Bookshop (Khartoum)

Recommended by Raph Cormack, co-editor of The Book of Khartoum, a short-story collection just released by Comma Press.


–>Dar al Maarifa Le Gai Savoir (Tunis)

On Pl Barcelone, recommended by scholar DJ Wrisley.


–>Pages Bookshop (Istanbul)

Recommended by too many people to list. Run by the wonderful Syrian artist-author-publishers Samer al-Kadri and Gulnar Hajo, with a cafe and a floor of books for children.

–>Totil (Istanbul)

Recommended by translator Raph Cormack, who says they’re “in my good books for getting me a copy of Kalthoum Fadlalla Ali’s new novel.”

::United Arab Emirates::

–>Buzoor Bookshop (Dubai)

Dubai’s leading children’s bookstore, recommended by ArabLit’s M Lynx Qualey.

–>Bookmunch Cafe (Dubai)

Run by former publisher Dareen Charafeddine, recommended by ArabLit’s M Lynx Qualey.

–>Maktaba (Sharjah)

A bookshop/cafe in Sharjah’s lovely Qasbah, recommended by publisher Bodour Al Qasimi.

Again, please add your own suggestions below or email them in.