Sunday, January 24, 2010

Arabic Books in Amsterdam

Some refer to it as not a good commercial idea, but my visit to a district in Paris where a number of Arabic bookshops located there – they were closed by the time I arrived, I was a bit early, so I waited in a cafe and decided to visit the Arab Institute in Paris. I have never been there.

This institute, as I heard is the effort, financially mainly, of all Arab countries in the 1990’s. The exception was Iraq because it was under the economic and political sanctions after invading Kuwait. The building is astonishing and so huge. The library does not only have Arabic books, but also English and French, maybe more, but the number of the books and the variety was something I would spend hours in it, not to mention spending a lot of money at the end.

I bought six books from there, if someone like to know

After leaving that place and on the way to the airport I kept on wondering why there is no such a bookshop in Amsterdam? Never mind the cultural awareness thing that an Arabic Institute have in a European city, so I skip that for now, but what about a bookshop and why there is none in Amsterdam equivalent to Ibn Sina bookshop in Paris, for example?

I asked this question before and there were many answers, but all of them pour into the same pot: Arabs don’t buy books, so a bookshop will loose money. I had my suspicions then, but when I went two years ago to a Dutch bookshop to buy Saidety magazine for my mother, I asked the buyer about such a thing. By the way, Saidety is a Gulf-published magazine focusing on women’s life of all ages, in addition to celebrities and entertainment news.

The buyer was originally Turkish, he told me with frustration that only that magazine is available in Arabic, and even this magazine is hard to sell in Amsterdam, because people think that it is too expensive!

Does this means that Arabs in Amsterdam are less educated, and that their counterparts in Paris or London are more literate and more eager to spend a cent on knowledge and information?

No comments: