This Mini-Library in Downtown Cairo Is Giving out Books for Free
By Reem Tolba
Earlier this year, there has been a handful of changes on Alfy Street in Downtown Cairo. The street was turned into a pedestrian boulevard facing revamped buildings and newly-opened small cafes.
The cherry on top of these changes is the new book stand that has been set up. The mini-library is an innovative local project urging book exchange. Every single book in that stall is free, all you have to do is exchange it with another book of your own.
Nader Riad is the man behind the whole project. Riad is an Egyptian businessman who wanted to give something back to the community. “We placed more than 80 books so far in Alfy and Emad al Din Street. We encourage Egyptians to borrow a book if they’d like to, and place another in return, or simply grab a book, and sit around for a few minutes to read,” Riad said.
“All of us have tens or even hundreds of books at home that are unread. I encourage all of us to place them there for other Egyptians to benefit from,” he added.
The Arab Thought Foundation published a report in 2011 on Cultural Development, and the statistics were shocking. The report showed that Arabs read an average of six minutes annually, while Europeans read 200 hours.
According to another UNESCO’s 2003 report on Human Development, an average Arab reads way less than one book per year. To put things in perspective, it takes 80 Arab people altogether to finish one book in one year, while an average European reads 35 books annually.
Hopefully, services like the book stand will help promote reading in Egypt, and encourage people to exchange books with one another.