Mapping out Arab international book fairs: Investigating the development of the Muscat book fair

Ali Saif Al-Aufi*, Nabhan Al-Harrasi, Shahid Al-Balushi, Hamed Al-Azri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate the status, challenges and impacts of the Arab international book fairs, with particular focus on the Muscat Book Fair. This study proposes a framework to assist in the design and organisation of future Arab book fairs. Design/methodology/approach: The study used a variety of methods to obtain data, including questionnaires, site visits (both regional and international), observations and interviews. A literature review was also undertaken which helped determine major worldwide issues related to aspects of book fairs and the publishing industry, focusing on Arab book fairs. Findings: Arab international book fairs remain relatively traditional, however, there are several examples of innovative improvements in some states. Reading habits and literacy trends were found to be influenced by dominant socio-cultural factors, emphasising religion and children’s literature. This seems to have a reverse effect on the publishing industry. Results also revealed a number of disadvantages related to economic downturns and political instability. Despite continuous expansion, Arab book fairs still suffer from various obstacles which affect the publishing industry’s growth. There are other obstacles that they face which are directly associated with distribution and marketing as well as violations of intellectual property laws. Practical implications: This study proposes a framework for future improvement of the Muscat Book Fair. It discusses the engagement of local cultural institutions, non-profit community and academic organisations, as well as private sector organisations. These will leverage value and help keep abreast of international developments in book fairs/publishing. It is hoped that the proposed framework will be beneficial to those running book fairs at a regional level, and to countries with developing economies. Originality/value: There have been no previous empirical studies investigating book fairs in the Arab states. This study adds to the currently scarce body of literature related to book fairs and the publishing industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-297
Number of pages18
JournalInformation and Learning Science
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Arab book fairs
  • Book fairs
  • Book publishing industry
  • Libraries
  • Muscat international book fair
  • Oman
  • Reading habits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications


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