ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Although the Erbil International Book Fair increased the number of English sections compared to previous years, locals complained about the limited number of English books.
The 12th annual book fair in Erbil opened on April 5 and will run until April 15.
The event includes over 750,000 books in the Arabic, Kurdish, French, and Persian languages printed by 310 different publishers from over 18 countries.
Similar to previous years, books in Arabic dominated the fair which led to many locals criticizing the organizers for insufficient books in the English language.
“The number of English books in the fair is very limited,” Jalil Sleman told Kurdistan24 while searching for books related to his field—politics and international relations—in the English language.
“Of course, they have increased the English sections compared to the previous years, but it’s still insufficient,” he added.
Dlovan Mohammed, another buyer at the book fair, said he was happy to see more English books but called for the organizer to increase and diversify the types of books.
“It is very frustrating for me to come all the way from Duhok Province to buy some social science books in the English language and find very few books related to my field,” Silav Ali, a female Kurdish student from Duhok University told Kurdistan24.
“As always, Arabic books have dominated the fair,” she complained.
Ali claimed the readers of English books were on the rise in the Kurdistan Region and called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to pressure the organizers of the fair to include more English books.
The Manager of the Erbil International Book Fair Ihab al-Qaissi explained to Kurdistan24 they had increased the number of English sections from about three in 2016 to 11 in 2017.
“The publishers of the English books are from different countries including the United States, Canada, UK, and India,” Qaissi continued.
“We are planning to increase the number of English books at future fairs,” he added.
The English language has gained dramatic popularity in the Region, especially after the removal of the Iraqi dictatorship in 2003.
Many English-speaking institutions have been opened and developed in Kurdistan in the last decade, including private schools and universities.
Moreover, the use of the English language in Kurdistan’s universities has already surpassed Arabic.
“Nowadays, if you don’t speak the English language, it will be very challenging to find a good job in the Kurdistan Region,” Karzan Salim, a buyer at the fair holding two English books, told Kurdistan24.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany