CAIRO — Sally Ramadan, a book manager of the Chinese section at 2017 Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF), has been bustling about for the final stage of the event, as she proudly caught sight of some Arab children huddling and giggling while reading the picture books she herself help translated.
“Stories for children are selling well,” she said, adding that translated books from Chinese into Arabic are attracting all ages of readers.
As director of “House of Wisdom,” the Egyptian branch of the China-based House of Wisdom for Media and Translation, which participated in the Chinese section of CIBF, Ramadan said that the section is increasing in scale, receiving more visitors and drawing more attention every year.
Readers were impressed by the variety of books and the Chinese-style decoration, she said, adding that she expects the Chinese participation be much larger next year.
Held under the slogan of “Youth and Future Culture,” the region’s largest and oldest book fair, which runs through Feb. 10 this year, includes 35 countries, 16 from the Arab world, six from Africa and 13 from other parts of the world, a total of 670 publishing houses.
Anas Mohammed, a Chinese language student at Al-Azhar University, has visited the fair for the second time. He said he most preferred the Arabic-Chinese and Chinese-Arabic dictionaries, which helps his Chinese learning.
He also wishes to know more about the country, whose language he has been learning for only three months, but found very interesting. “I had a look at the geographical books to get some information about China. I’m really going to buy a number of books.”
China and Egypt have deeply rooted ties, he said, and there are many books, written by Chinese and Egyptian authors about the mutual historical relations of them. “Personally, I love the Chinese culture which is very close to ours and I have many Chinese friends and we share great moments together,” he said.
The section displays more than 27,000 books, covering cultural, economic, political, literary and educational fields, said Ahmed al-Said, head of the Chinese Section at the Book Fair. “The Chinese participation in the book fair aims at strengthening the mutual cooperation and cultural exchange as well as spreading the Chinese culture in Egypt,” he added.
Although educational and cultural books are the most attractive for visitors, as al-Said has introduced, a Chinese encyclopedia has also caught the spotlight at the book fair’s forum. The Tiangong Kaiwu, or The Exploitation of the Works of Nature, has become the first encyclopedia to be translated from Chinese into Arabic.
Israa Abdel al-Sayyed, professor of Chinese language at Ain Shams University, said that most of the previous translation works focused on literature, philosophy or art, but this translation of a scientific encyclopedia from Chinese into Arabic gives Arab readers a chance “to know about the Chinese scientific thought, which has impressed the whole world.”
“This encyclopedia was written in the 17th century, and it almost discusses all crafts and industries at that time which makes it comprehensive,” he said, adding that it shows the Arabs that China has a great achievement and contributions in science.
Haitham Al-Haj Ali, chairman of the Egyptian General Book Authority, the official organizing body of the book fair, praised the Chinese participation in the book fair, saying that the scale of the unique participation is nearly at the same level to the guest of honor of the book fair.
“I also value the activities of the Chinese section as well as the interesting books showcased at the Chinese corner,” he said.