52nd Cairo Int’l Book Fair inaugurated amid COVID-19 precautions

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People visit the Cairo International Book Fair in Cairo, Egypt, on June 30, 2021. The 52nd edition of Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF), held under the slogan of "In Reading, There Is Life," was inaugurated by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

The 52nd edition of Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF), held under the slogan of “In Reading, There Is Life,” was inaugurated by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Wednesday.

A woman reads a book at the Cairo International Book Fair in Cairo, Egypt, on June 30, 2021. The 52nd edition of Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF), held under the slogan of “In Reading, There Is Life,” was inaugurated by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

The CIBF is held at Egypt International Exhibitions Center with the participation of 1,218 publishers from 25 countries amid strict implementation of anti-COVID-19 precautionary measures.

The Egyptian prime minister said the current session is held in “exceptional circumstances” due to the COVID-19 crisis, “which imposed the necessity of dealing with it and overcoming its negative repercussions.”

“Egypt witnesses an unprecedented cultural movement represented in efforts to enrich all aspects of cultural life,” Madbouly continued.

The CIBF is organized by the General Egyptian Book Organization (GEBO), which launched this year an online platform for the fair to provide relevant online services and activities and limit the number of daily visitors in accordance with the precautionary measures.

“The online platform represents the most important shift this year in the history of the fair,” Haitham al-Hajj Ali, the CIBF chief organizer and head of the GEBO, told Xinhua.

“It provides all services of the fair, including booking tickets online, exploring publishing houses, making virtual tours and holding online sales,” Ali added, noting that online ticket booking is meant to limit the number of daily visitors to 100,000 as part of the precautionary measures.

He pointed out that it has been decided to make the fair last for 15 days instead of 12 to allow the largest number of visitors to come and to avoid crowdedness at the same time.

“We will make sure that visitors wear face masks, use sanitizers and maintain all the basic measures stated by the protocol of the Health Ministry, which supervises the implementation of the precautionary measures,” the fair’s organizer told Xinhua.

The CIBF used to be held in January every year, but it has been delayed this year due to COVID-19 related reasons. It attracted last year some 3.8 million visitors, according to the top organizer.

For her part, Egyptian Culture Minister Inas Abdel-Dayem pointed out that the 52nd CIBF witnesses launching an initiative entitled “Your Culture Is Your Book,” besides its first virtual book fair with 3D technology.

She added that a maximum number of visitors has been set for each of the four main exhibition halls and a sufficient distance between pavilions of exhibitors has been implemented to ensure social distancing.

“There has been established a permanent operation room for the fair, as well as a technical support service and an online customer service,” the minister said during the inauguration, adding that there will be a special path for elder people and those with special needs during the fair.

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