Cairo International Book Fair

The Cairo International Book Fair is the largest and oldest book fair in the Arab world, held every year in the last week of January in Cairo, Egypt, at Egypt International Exhibitions Center in New Cairo, it is organised by the General Egyptian Book Organisation.[2] The Fair is considered the most important event in the Arabic publishing world.[3]

Cairo International Book Fair
CIBF crowd 2009.jpg
Crowds walk among the thousands of titles available at the 41st Cairo International Book Fair, 3 February 2009.
VenueEgypt International Exhibitions Center
Location(s)New Cairo in Cairo
Attendance1 - 2,000,000 (estimated)
Organized byGeneral Egyptian Book Organisation[2]


The Cairo International Book Fair is one of the biggest book fairs in the world, drawing hundreds of book sellers from around the world and about 2 million visitors each year. It is the largest book fair in the Arab world,[2][4] as well as the oldest.[5] In 2006, it was the second largest book fair in the world after the Frankfurt Book Fair.[1]

The fair is also notable as Cairo-based publishers produce an estimated three of five Arabic language books printed in the world,[5] and the state owned General Egyptian Book Organisation—who coordinate the fair—is the largest book publisher in the Arab world.[5] The fair features booths and speakers from private publishers and government agencies from around the world, as well as retailers of books, video, and other media.[6][7] Lectures, readings, and other public events take place during the almost three weeks over which the book fair runs, and material is presented in Arabic, English, and other languages. The fair purposely appeals to ordinary Egyptians, with media on mainstream topics, outdoor events, and even fireworks to entertain the large crowds.[8]

The CIBF was founded by the General Egyptian Book Organisation, a government publishers and retailers group, in 1969 to coincide with celebrations of the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the city of Cairo.[1] Its 41st iteration was held from 21 January to 5 February 2009.[9] In November 2018, the General Egyptian Book Organization declared that 100 new books will be published under the organization’s name in the Cairo International Book Fair.[10]


The CIBF has been marred in recent years by charges that leftist and Muslim militant authors, works critical of the government, and works featuring passages or topics deemed sexually or culturally controversial have been banned from presentation at the book fair.[11][12][13][14][15] During the 2000 book fair, Islamist protests against books they deemed offensive erupted into violence. That year, over 2000 members of Muslim student groups protested outside Al-Azhar University, leading to rare public protests against the Egyptian government, violence, 75 arrests and a number of injuries. The students were protesting an Egyptian Ministry of Culture publisher printing and presenting for sale copies of the 1983 novel A Banquet for Seaweed by the Syrian writer Haidar Haidar. Following the protests, two members of the government printing house were also arrested for "disparaging religion" and publishing a work "offensive to public morals".[16]

In following years a number of books presented by foreign publishers have been seized by Egyptian authorities. These have included works by Czech Milan Kundera, Moroccan Mohamed Choukri, Saudi Ibrahim Badi, Lebanese Hanan al-Sheikh, and fellow Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury[17] In 2005, Egyptian police arrested a number of book sellers and activists at the book fair, charging two Egyptian journalists with "disseminating false propaganda against the government" and others for presenting an avowedly socialist work.[18]

The Fair was canceled in January 2011 due to the 2011 Egyptian revolution. The Fair returned in 2012 and "Nearly all of the new books, seminars, poetry recitals, theatrical shows and performances by different troupes at the Fair, in one way or another, seem to depict and celebrate the Arab Spring and the Egyptians’ revolt."[19]


  1. ^ a b c Seif Kamel, "The 38th International Book Fair", Tour Egypt, 24 January 2006.
  2. ^ a b c "Censorship trims fare at Cairo International Book Fair" (Agence France Presse), The Daily Star (Lebanon), 29 January 2008.
  3. ^ "A new Syrian edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (2005) Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine featured at the Cairo International Book Fair and exhibited with other Syrian-published anti-Semitic books". 28 February 2005.
  4. ^ Huda al-Kibsi, "Crowds flocking to Sana’a International Book Fair" Archived 25 May 2012 at, Yemen Observer, 30 October 2007.
  5. ^ a b c Maya Jaggi, "'They let the dogs yap'", The Guardian, Saturday, 9 February 2008.
  6. ^ Speakers at the 41st Cairo International Book Fair Archived 27 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine. The British Council (2009).
  7. ^ Zvi Bar'el, "High interest, no readers" Archived 21 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Haaretz, February 2008.
  8. ^ Sherif Abdel-Samad, "Johannes Ebert: A mandate to dialogue" Archived 28 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Al-Ahram Weekly, 8-14 March 2007.
  9. ^ Cairo International Book Fair, 21 January-5 February: Programme Archived 17 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Al-Ahram, January 2009.
  10. ^ "100 new books will be published at Cairo International Book Fair - Egypt Today". Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  11. ^ Amr Eman, "God and woman in Egypt. A feminist writer accused of insult to Islam religion". San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, 6 May 2007.
  12. ^ Hot Egyptian novel sends pulses racing[permanent dead link]. JOSEPH MAYTON (Middle East Times). 21 April 2008
  13. ^ Off the shelf -- and then where? Archived 11 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Al-Ahram. 7 February 2001
  14. ^ Egypt censors book fair[permanent dead link]. AFP 29 January 2008
  15. ^ Book fair opens amid controversy. Heba Sala, BBC 25 January 2001
  16. ^ "Cairo book protesters released". BBC 12 May 2000.
  17. ^ Lebanese Books Censored at Cairo Fair. Nahar Net (Beirut) 29 January 2008.
  18. ^ "Detained journalist begins hunger strike". International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), 8 February 2005.
  19. ^ Ihab Shaaraway. "Egypt's Book Fair back with a vengeance", The Egyptian Gazette, 30 January 2012.

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