Al-Saleh to ST: Big Turnout for 29th Book Fair in Damascus Proves Syrian's Eagerness to Restore Active Cultural Life

Director of the al-Assad National Library Saleh al-Saleh has said the increase in the number of participants in the 29th Book Fair being held in Damascus and the remarkably big turnout distinguish this session from the previous one held last year after a four-year hiatus.

"More than 150 publishing houses are showing 100.000 book titles this year, and this number of titles is very good in book fairs," he told the Syriatimes e-newspaper's reporter Wednesday, asserting that there were a lot of pavilion reservations by many publishing houses in several countries, but they were cancelled because of political pressure practiced on them by the government of these countries.

 "The exhibited books, many of them are translated, deal with political, economic, scientific, literary and religious topics. There are also books for children and teenagers besides a special pavilion for al-Assad library that exhibits unique manuscripts plus different versions of the Holy Quran, one of them was presented by President Bashar al-Assad," he added, pointing out that many book signing ceremonies and symposiums were held over the past few days.

Al-Saleh stressed that the turnout for the fair exceeded expectations and it proved Syrian people's eagerness to restore active cultural life.

"Actually, a lot of readers still prefer printed books despite the spread of the e-books," he added.

The same idea was repeated by several participants in the 10-day fair.


Mahmoud Diab, who is responsible for New Era pavilion –Demark- that shows scores of books in English and Arabic in cooperation with Akl publishing house, told us that the books deal with human development.

"There are books for children translated from Danish language into English and we sell these books at symbolic prices. We distribute booklets about the way to happiness for free," he said, indicating that people must have a good idea about human development.

"This year the turnout is better that the last year and most of the visitors to our pavilion are youths," Diab affirms.


On his part, Walid Ahmash from Bisan Publishing House –Lebanon- said that the house used to participate every year in the Book Fair in Damascus. This year it shows 350 literary and political book titles .

"There is a good turnout for the fair but the prices of books are high. Most of visitors to our pavilion are interested in a book on history of civilizations in the region," he added, expressing admiration over Syria people's insistence on going ahead with their normal life. 


Rana Dalati from al-Manahel Publishing House said that this is the first participation for the house as a representative of Egyptian publishing houses in the fair.  It shows books in all fields.

"The exhibited books are chosen in accordance with the new publications and what peoples are interested in," she said, adding that the pavilion shows around 700 titles published in 2016 and 2017.

"Some Egyptian publishing houses could not come to Syria because of the current circumstances here," Dalati underlined, referring to Syrian youths' interest in reading printed books.

Malak Jazmati from al-Manar Publishing House said: "This year the pavilion shows medical and academic books and the house is a representative of world publishing houses that encouraged us to take part in the fair."

Her colleague Samer al-Moselli told us: "This year there is a very good turnout because people have overcome the crisis and they want to return to their normal life."

Al-Quds Institution

Tawfiq Mahmoud from Al-Quds International Institution said: " Our participation in the fair aims to brief visitors on the activities of the Institution's branch, which was established in 2009."

He underscored that the participation of the Institution in the 28th book fair was fruitful and this encouraged it to take part in the fair this year.

Russian Cultural Center

Qais Akel from Alaeddin Publishing House, which participates in the name of the Russian Cultural Center, said that there is a very good turnout and participation in the fair this year because of the success of the previous session held in 2016.

"We show novels and books in English, Russian and Arabic languages and sales are somehow good. Many Syrians read books about Russian literature," he added.

In brief, the book fair proves Syrian people's adherence to culture and their eagerness to go back to the active cultural life that has been a main target for foreign-backed terrorist organizations since 2011.

Related link:

Reported by: Basma Qaddour