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The Crown Princess at Cairo Book Fair

On Thursday, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit officially opened the Norwegian Guest of Honour Programme and the Norwegian pavilion at the Cairo International Book Fair.


This year, Norway is the Guest of Honour at the Book Fair in Cairo. The project aims to promote Norwegian literature in the Arabic-speaking world, spark the joy of reading, and to increase recruitment of translators between Norwegian and Arabic.

The Cairo International Book Fair attracts millions of visitors annually.

In her remarks at the opening of Norway’s Guest of Honour Programme, Crown Princess Mette-Marit pointed to the status of the book fair in the region – an area where Norwegian literature is not particularly well-known.

“The Cairo International Book Fair is the most important book fair in the Arabic-speaking world, and it is a great privilege for Norway to have been invited as the Guest of Honour.”

Egyptian Minister of Culture Neveen Al-Kilany and Director of the Cairo Book Fair Dr Ahmed Bahi El Din attended the opening of the Norwegian pavilion and the Guest of Honour Programme. Photo: Cornelius Poppe, NTB

Read the entire speech

Literature as a positive force

Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide accompanied the Crown Princess on the two-day official visit to Cairo. Earlier in the day, the two met with humanitarian aid workers who have recently carried out missions inside Gaza. In her speech, Crown Princess Mette-Marit also referred to the dire situation unfolding close to Egypt’s borders.

“In difficult times like these, art, literature, and free speech enable us to better grasp all that we have in common. Reading about other people's lives deepens our understanding, increases our capacity for empathy and shows us that others share our thoughts and feelings. The right to freely express opinions and ideas through literature, poetry and art lies at the heart of the right to freedom of expression.”

Crown Princess Mette-Marit speaking at the opening of Norway's Guest of Honour Programme at the Cairo Book Fair 2024. Photo: Cornelius Poppe, NTB

Promoting Norwegian literature in the Arabic-speaking world

After the Crown Princess had formally opened Norway’s Guest of Honour Programme, Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder took part in a conversation with Director of the Cairo Book Fair Ahmed Bahi El Din on how to spark the joy of reading.

Participation at the Cairo Book Fair enables Norwegian authors to reach an entirely new audience. Over 12 days, the Norwegian pavilion will serve as a meeting place for 17 Norwegian authors and members of the general public. The visiting authors will be participating in seminars and lectures, also in collaboration with their Egyptian colleagues.

Other Norwegian authors involved in the book fair include Hanne Ørstavik, Terje Tvedt, Jørn Lier Horst, Bjørn Sortland, Nora Dåsnes, and Karen Anne Buljo. The programme highlights Norwegian children’s and young adult literature.

Jostein Gaarder, seen here greeting Crown Princess Mette-Marit, is one of the 17 Norwegian authors who will be participating at events at the book fair. Photo: Cornelius Poppe, NTB

Norway’s Guest of Honour Programme is headed by NORLA– Norwegian Literature Abroad together with the Norwegian Institute for Children’s Books and MUNCH. The project is being carried out in close cooperation with the Norwegian Embassy in Cairo.

The bookseller of Cairo

On Thursday evening, the Crown Princess attended a reception at the Norwegian Ambassador’s official residence in Cairo in honour of Norway’s role at the book fair.

The programme concluded on Friday with a visit to the Diwan Book Store. Diwan offers a wide array of international literature, including Norwegian literature.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit visits the Diwan Book Store and the Director Amal Mahmoud in Cairo. Photo: Cornelius Poppe, NTB

A visitor to the Norwegian pavilion. Norway is the Guest of Honour at the Book Fair in Cairo. Photo: Cornelius Poppe, NTB

Last updated on 26 January 2024


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