Quirky Arabic bookshops

Three things I love: quirky shops, bookshops & Arabic books. So I fell in love with these little treats of the kutub world…

Abu Ali’s literary kiosk, downtown Amman

Every bookshop I went into in Amman was ultimately disappointing, even the lovely Books@ Cafe, I have to say. Until I got to this unassuming and tiny little kiosk, which had been looking straight at me all week whenever I came out of my hotel across the road. Loads of people directed me to it when I asked them where I could find the latest releases in Arabic fiction, and I doubted them. But when I got up close, I saw that this kiosk, the only serious provider of literary and quality reading matter to the Jordanians, had been acknowledged by the King himself. I was then astounded to find that they had almost everything on my shopping list, if not there inside the tardis then at his secret stash round the corner. I was a very happy customer.

Nice article about Abu Ali on Into the Wind blog

Nice video in Arabic with English subtitles about Hasan Abu Ali and his amazing kiosk [Source: al-masry al-yawm/Egypt Independent]

Alef Bookstore’s Knowledge Taxi

A novel idea from Cairo-based Alef Bookstore, which has persuaded hundreds of taxi drivers across Egypt’s major cities to carry a mobile library attached to the back of the front seat, allowing passengers in the back to browse the latest bestsellers and some classic works of fiction while they’re stuck in solid traffic. I love it.

Article in Egypt Independent / Article in al Arabiya news / Full version of Alef Bookstores Taxi of Knowledge video on YouTube


About Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Literary translator from Arabic, German and Russian into English
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