Floating book fair opens in Bahrain
Manama, October 24, 2013
The world's biggest floating book fair opened its doors to the public in Bahrain for the first time yesterday (October 23), a report said.
With a stock of half a million books and a multicultural staff and crew of around 400 volunteers, the Logos Hope tours the world on its ceaseless mission to bring "knowledge, help and hope", according to the report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It has stopped in Qatar, Oman, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Philippines in the past four months, but life onboard can be quite a challenge, British-born media relations officer Cat Tse told the GDN.
"Every year we have around one million visitors in the book fair," said the 27-year-old, who has served on the ship for a year and half.
"Sometimes it can get very crowded. We have one day off a week where we can go out and explore, but it can't always be your first day of course - it's strange to arrive in a new country and not be able to get out and see it for a few days."
The staff might be volunteers, but they all have a job to do - either keeping the ship operational, running the kitchen, working in the laundry or manning the bookshop.
Tse said it was hard work, but worth it for the people you get to meet.
"Our purpose is not really to make a profit from the books, it's more to get people to come to the ship and experience it," she said. "To meet the crew, all the different nationalities and to see how we can all live together."
More than 50 different nationalities are represented in the Logos Hope's staff and crew.
They showcase their different cultures and homelands through school visits and outreach events, such as the Cultural Cafe featuring an array of national dances, songs and performances taking place next Tuesday from 7pm.
"I really like the culture here, in that it's a family orientated," said Tse. "You see a lot of fathers with children - in East Asia it's not like that."
Educational books have proved the most popular amongst GCC nationals, while the ship's small selection of "faith books" - which are not readily available in the Middle East - have also proved a draw.
"Some countries don't want certain books to be sold in the book fair, sometimes we have censors coming in like in Oman," said Tse. "But we only stock mainstream books, the ones that are the most popular."
The Logos Hope will remain docked at Mina Salman Port until November 4. The book fair is open to the public between 2pm and 10pm every day. – TradeArabia News Service