Muscat – William Shakespeare, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen and Paulo Coelho are just a few of the many writers whose Arabic translations proved favorites among book lovers at the 26th edition of the Muscat International Book Fair which s is open on Thursday at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Until March 5, the book fair should attract thousands of bibliophiles. Inaugurated by His Highness Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham al Said, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, 715 publishing houses representing 27 countries are participating in this edition of the book fair.
Hikmet Kabbani, a book seller from Turkey, said: “Books are here to stay contrary to popular belief that internet entertainment has taken over. In Turkey you find people on trains with books, not cell phones. Our publishing house is based in Turkey, but we print classics in Syria. Most of the translations are done by Syrian literary experts, professors or academics. The translations are accurate and rarely change the narrative.
He added that in Oman, readers prefer classics, mainly thrillers and romances. “Sherlock Holmes is still very popular in Oman.”
Vinith P, Sales Manager of Good Readers UAE, said, “We have been attending the Sharjah Book Festival for years and I can say with confidence that people still enjoy reading books. We have a collection of books from around the world, some of which are translated into Arabic.
Manning the Egypt Samaa Publishing booth, Mohammad Ali said, “We have specifically Egyptian books. Egyptian writers and poets are very popular in Oman and throughout the Gulf region. We are happy to be back at the fair after a few years. The crowd today – the first day – is very impressive.
Besides fiction, there are books on science, technology, and management, which are picked up by students, colleges, and libraries.
Saba Sayed of Kuwait’s Darakkhan Publishing House said, “Among our wide selection are titles for colleges and universities. We are seeing a good response from academics buying these books. The stand also stocked a collection of classics.
In anticipation of a demand for biographies, several stands are dedicated to this genre, where visitors could see books on Nelson Mandela, Madonna and Barack Obama among others. Contemporary writers, from Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari to Indian pop fiction icon Chetan Bhagat, also line the stalls’ shelves.
Research papers are another sought-after genre at the fair. Articles on law, the environment and the creative arts are also on display. Zaid bin Hamood el Esai, representative of the Technical Office of the Supreme Court, said: “We publish two books a year on court cases in Oman – civil and criminal cases. We write about the various judgments and principles of law. We have been publishing books since 2003 and the response has been tremendous, both among civilians and among law students.