In pictures: Logos Hope, world renowned floating book fair, docks in Egypt
While ships docking in Egypt’s Port Said is not an unusual site, dozens of people have been queueing to see one ship in particular. The Logos Hope ship is one of the world’s largest floating book fairs, travelling around the world to encourage people to read, increase their knowledge and to foster cultural exchange. The last time the ship was in Egypt was in 2010, with some locals still recalling the time from more than a decade ago. (All photos by Fadel Dawod.)
The Logos Hope project first launched in 2004 and its motto is “sharing knowledge, help and hope”. Since its launch, it has visited over 130 ports in 76 countries, staying for a number of weeks in each destination. The ship was originally built in 1973 in Germany, where it served as a cargo ship for 10 years. In 1983 it was sold to a ferry company in the Danish Faroe Islands to transport passengers and goods between Iceland and Norway, until it was sold in March 2004 to Good Books For All, a German charitable company that owns a number of floating book fairs that tour various ports around the world. The book fair opens daily, and closes late, giving those eager to read and discover new books plenty of time and opportunity to learn more and explore the shelves. There is a small entry fee of five Egyptian pounds, less than a dollar, to enter the floating book fair, and on board there is also a cafe, restaurant and theatre. Prices of the books range anywhere from 100 to 600 Egyptian pounds.
Before docking in Egypt, the ship was in Lebanon’s capital Beirut, where hundreds of people visited to see the books on offer. The ship docked in Egypt on 5 January, and will be there until 21 January. Inside the ship are around 50,000 books, covering a range of topics, and catering to both adults and children. Some of the genres featured include sports, cooking, arts, languages and religion. Many of the books on board have been donated by charitable organisations in the countries that the ship docks in.
Flocks of people have been visiting the book fair since it opened in Egypt, spending hours wandering between the stacked shelves. Some have even come with their family and friends. “Visiting the ship in a quiet city like Port Said has turned into a family event more than just a cultural one,” says Mahmoud, as he walked through the ship’s doors. “The book fair has also been a good day out for families, particularly in light of the current economic conditions,” he added. For many families in Egypt, a visit to the book fair is considered to be fairly affordable, and allows them to explore the different books on offer while also paying a visit to the cafe.
Another Port Said local also praised the floating book fair. “The ship is wonderful and everything is very well organised. We have heard a lot about it, and since it has not visited Egypt in many years, for it to return has been amazing,” Ahmed Ali told Middle East Eye.
For some, the floating book fair has encouraged people to read more and has peaked their interest in literature. “There are not many books in Arabic on the ship, but the ship’s presence in Port Said has led to a boom in people wanting to read more,” Noha says. According to Noha, the floating book fair has also encouraged tourism in the city, as it has been added to a number of tourism packages in the country, and many people are taking day trips to come and visit the book fair.
Some have been waiting for the floating book fair for years. Ibrahim Mostafa, who was visiting the book fair, says that he has been looking forward to it coming back to Egypt for over 10 years. “I feel the presence of the whole world around me in one place,” he explained. “I am from the city of Alexandria, and although we have one of the biggest libraries, the Library of Alexandria, to see the presence of this floating book fair is a wonderful and historic occasion,” he added.
The volunteers on the ship regularly hold events to promote literacy and cultural co-operation, and engage in lengthy conversations with those coming on board.
After stopping in Egypt, the ship will be sailing away to Jordan, showcasing its books to eager citizens there. The ship has previously visited the Libyan city of Benghazi as well as the Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in 2013.
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