People browse through books on a stand at the Cairo International Book Fair, in Cairo - Reuters
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Chinese books and cultural products added luster to Egypt’s annual Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF) in its golden jubilee.

The CIBF, which is held at the Egypt International Exhibition Center in Cairo, kicked off on Jan. 22 and will run until Feb. 5, featuring hundreds of side events dedicated to culture.

In the first hall of the book fair, Chinese flags and bright red lanterns dangled over the bookshelves at China’s largest pavilion at the book fair.

Chinese publishing houses and companies have eight pavilions at the fair, five of which are affiliated with Cairo-based Chinese “Wisdom House for Cultural Industries” institution.

“We have five pavilions this year. The major pavilion is approximately 100 square meters and it is divided into three sections,” Ahmed al-Saeed, CEO of Wisdom House, told Xinhua.

The first section includes books on Chinese culture and literature, while the second section presents children’s books and the third is dedicated to Chinese textbooks.

“The second pavilion is dedicated to selling Chinese cultural products, such as lanterns, calendars and other traditional cultural items. This happens for the first time at the Cairo book fair,” al-Saeed said.

This pavilion displays products such as intelligence games, flags, fans and mirrors with Chinese illustrations, he added.

“We have been exhibiting some special Chinese accessories for Spring Festival celebrations since 2015. This year, we brought a shipment of about 100,000 Chinese items for the festival,” al-Saeed revealed.

He said the Chinese community is large and these items are necessary for them during the celebrations, adding that the Egyptians as well started to observe the Spring Festival every year.

“The third pavilion is dedicated to selling Chinese children’s books translated into Arabic, while the fourth pavilion is the official place … not dedicated to selling any books. The fifth pavilion sells educational books and textbooks,” al-Saeed said.

In its pavilions, Wisdom House displays 550 titles translated from Chinese into Arabic with 300 titles for educational books and more than 50 titles of Chinese cultural products, according to al-Saeed.

In addition to the Wisdom House, China Today magazine, Beijing Normal University Publishing Group and Shanghai KS Printing Company are participating in the book fair.

Al-Saeed said the Chinese pavilions have witnessed a huge turnout as more Egyptians are willing to learn more about China.

Since its establishment in 2011, Wisdom House, which operates in both Egypt and China, has been focusing on publishing China-related cultural and literary books in Arabic to enhance China-Arab cultural exchange.

Egyptian-Chinese bilateral ties have been elevated to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership with growing economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries in the light of China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Inside the second pavilion of the Wisdom House, Dina Mohammed and her child looked admirably at the Chinese cultural items.

“I have bought some Chinese red lanterns and other items because they attracted me,” the middle-aged mother said.

“The book fair is a good chance for Egyptians to get closer and know more about China and its culture,” she added.

Kamel Mohammed, an agriculture engineer, is a frequent visitor of the CIBF.

“The book fair is a special occasion for me where I can find books about China that I cannot find anywhere else,” Mohammed told Xinhua.

First launched in 1969, the CIBF is considered the largest and oldest book fair in the Middle East and the second largest worldwide after Germany’s Frankfurt Book Fair.

The fair commemorates this year former Egyptian Culture Minister Tharwat Okasha, the brains behind the event, and Suhair al-Qalamawy, an Egyptian writer who was the first head of the General Egyptian Book Organization.

The two-week event brings together around 1,724 publishers and participants from 35 countries, with Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana taking part for the first time.

Around 10 African countries, 16 Asian countries, seven countries from Europe, and two from the Americas are participating in this year’s edition.

A total of 749 publishing houses are participating in the fair, with 579 houses from Egypt and 170 foreign houses.

The event will also feature eight workshops on writing, theater and fine art and will host around 170 Arab and foreign guests, as well as more than 300 poets and 2,500 writers, critics and artists. Enditem

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