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Friday, February 26, 2021

PHOTOS: Floating book fair wins praise from Qatar residents

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The Logos Hope floating book fair, which docked in Doha on Thursday, is garnering much praise among residents, who say they are happy to be getting a healthy dose of literature in a country where a reading culture is still developing.

The book fair, funded by a German Christian charity organization, attracted some 40,000 people during its last visit to Qatar in February 2011, and this year has some 5,000 titles aboard, almost all affordably priced.

Speaking to Doha News, Bernadette Rautenbach, a South African teacher at the English Modern School in Doha, said:

“The ship is wonderful. There is a great selection of books, both fiction and nonfiction—and children’s books as well.”

She added that crucial to improving the reading culture for the next generation is “matching children with books they’ll love.”

Despite a high literacy rate, educators have pointed to Qatar’s lack of libraries as a reason why more kids here are not interested in reading. Its adult residents also grapple with access to reading material.

Currently, Qatar is home to only a handful of bookstores, including Jarir Bookstore, Virgin Megastores and the recently opened WH Smith at Ezdan Mall.

But Qatar is making headway, with a National Library in the works. There are also various initiatives here to promote reading, such as mobile bookstores and Laysh: to read or not to read. The campaign, which means “why” in Arabic, was launched in April by TEDxYouth@Doha and Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, in hopes of starting a conversation about a subject that not many people give a lot of thought.

The benefits of reading are many, and the pastime has been credited with boosting creativity, fostering empathy and helping educate others about people, places and events outside of their experience.

With that in mind, Logos Hope’s book selection covers everything from cooking, geography and Jane Austen to even religion, with a large section labeled “For Christians only,” carrying Evangelical literature and Bibles.

William Juma Makonge of Kenya said he was pleased to have the opportunity to buy Christian books that are otherwise unavailable in Qatar. He said it is a not a problem for books on Christianity to be sold in Qatar because people in Qatar are of all different nationalities.

Fathima Khan, a Muslim from India, agreed with Makonge, telling Doha News:

“There are Christians here as well. There’s a diversity.”

Logos Hope is docked at the Doha Port, near the Museum of Islamic Art, through Oct. 20. All visitors to the book fair should take a shuttle bus from the parking lot. According to Gulf Times, national ID or a passport is needed for entry into the port.

Thoughts?

6 COMMENTS

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Oliver Smith
Oliver Smith
7 years ago

‘For Christians Only’? Are other religions not allowed to read books on Christianity. Maybe it’s just be translated wrong.

Vanessa
Vanessa
7 years ago
Reply to  Oliver Smith

Agreed. Similarly, I tire of the ideas that people are only either Christian or Muslim, and that Westerners are automatically Christian.

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago

Went to something similar to this a few years back. These are good initiatives that I hope continue.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago

of course it is successful! There are NO books in Doha!
Again Doha News wrote about WH Smith like if it is the quintessence of bookstores….it is a shame of a place!

I am sure that any small bookstore in a distant village in your countries is better that idiotic bookstore, where there aren’t children books. Guys, just give up! Bookstores, galleries, theatres….it is not for this country! It is too small and too low the general culture to attract and to sell!

So, no wonder initiatives like this have great success. There is emptiness in this bubble.

Anon
Anon
7 years ago

The idea is lovely and I’m sure they do a lot of charitable work, but the whole thing smelt to me a little of evangelical self-promotion as much as the Gulf would allow……the book selection was pretty limited given the space available, a lot of kids’ books and religious stuff, but not really that much else…….you have to leave through some mazey mural thing which seemed to promote ‘certain lifestyle choices’ and that was just after the christian CD section…..there was no way I was going to find any Dawkins or Hitchens there! Or any other decent literature actually…..here’s an idea Logos, have less volunteers and more books.

Anon
Anon
7 years ago

Ever wondered why such a big ship supports so few books? It’s because most of the ship is turned over the business of providing for infidel alcoholic prostitute addicts. Oh yes, all those cabin windows you see from dockside, which should be full of bookends are the scenes of hourly debauchery, not even committed in international waters. Huge number of voracious ‘assistants’ that Logos provide have nothing to do with libraries, but plenty to do with bedrooms….etc.etc.

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