Literature and knowledge are alive and well. The younger generations are keen to read, be informed, and thirst for the latest books from Arab and international publishing houses, and Bahrain is a cultural centre worthy of respect.
I attended the opening ceremony of a major Bahrain book festival, and it was great to see so many friends and officials from different bodies, because culture is the foundation of life, whatever your profession or position.
On the second day of the festival I celebrated the launch of my book I Am Not Done for the first time in Bahrain after its successful launch in Beirut, Kuwait and other countries, as well as the English version on Amazon. In this book, I have presented aspects of my personal and professional life over 50 years, from the time I grew up in Lebanon, through my trips between Jordan, Turkey and Dubai, to finally settling in Bahrain.
I was delighted with the demand for my book! Through its title I wanted to convey a message to everyone that, with the grace of God, I still work, accomplish and present something useful to myself and those around me, and that I “am not done.”
My signing ceremony was one among a hundred similar ceremonies over 10 days, and these new publications added to more than five thousand newly issued books presented at the festival in various fields of knowledge, culture, intellectual, literary, social, economic, religious and legal publications.
Discerning visitors are interested in thought, politics, literature, and thirsty for new publications and books. Some publishers say they are keen to bring the latest versions of books to Bahrain because they know the extent of a Bahraini yearning for knowledge.
The other noteworthy aspect was the number of Bahraini families wanting to instil an interest in reading in their children. It was also a destination not just for Bahraini readers, but also Saudis seeking cultural and intellectual knowledge. It was also remarkable to see the immense popularity of books of literature, philosophy and Western sciences.
The most popular books are novels, followed by self-improvement ones then religion, history and philosophy.
Culture and awareness are fine, despite all that is said about a reading crisis and the withering away of knowledge.
Festivals alert us to the importance of the paper book, especially for the young, which are more in need of reading. They promote a culture of deep knowledge as opposed to the diverse tools that usually provide superficial, or false information, as in cyberspace.