- Special Pages
By Azmat Haroon
Doha: More than 700 books have until last week been exchanged at Qatar’s first book exchange programme being held at the Katara amphitheatre.
The Book4Book programme, organised by Dar Al Sharq in collaboration with Katara, was launched in the beginning of this Ramadan. The programme has gained widespread popularity in just a few weeks time.
During Garangao, more than 1,050 people visited the bookstands, which only run on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9pm to midnight.
Aimed at enriching the reading culture in Qatar, Dar Al Sharq is encouraging people to exchange old books for the ones on display. The range of books varies from those on religion to fiction and from non-fiction to children’s books.
Many people have praised the initiative saying that because buying books can be expensive in Qatar, this program allows them to read different books free of cost.
Eight-year-old Hana Ansary has been to the fair twice already, and on each weekend she exchanged her old storybooks for different ones. The range of children books is particularly exciting for her. “I just got some Famous Five books,” she said while keenly showing off her new reading material.
Ansary’s two elder sisters have also given away their Cheetah Girls series at the fair.
Because Katara attracts foreigners and people on visit to Qatar, the fair has provided travellers an insight into the reading culture of the country.
Malaz Nurelhuda, a student of international trade and commerce at Oxford University, said she was impressed by the variety of books available at the stands.
“There’s a good mixture of Arabic and English books here. I wish I had some books on me so that I could exchange them,” Nurelhuda said, who is visiting Qatar for the first time with her family.
Khalid Ahmed Swefy, who found out about the programme through local newspapers, exchanged five books on his first visit to the fair, saying he was impressed by the collection of Islamic books.
Others, meanwhile, make a point of visiting the fair every weekend so that they can get their hands on new books.
Because this concept is new in the country, some people even asked if they could pay money to buy old books. But keeping in line with the free exchange program, the organisers have kept a strict stance on no-payment.
All books except school textbooks can be exchanged at the fair. The publications of Dar Al Sharq are also a part of the book fair, an initiative that aims to promote Arabic literature.