A scene from the Casablanca Book Salon 2017
A scene from the Casablanca Book Salon 2017
A scene from the Casablanca Book Salon 2017

The 23rd edition of the International Edition and Book Fair Casablanca run from February 9-19, 2017. It was ten days of book celebration, creativity and culture.

While Morocco is firmly in the African continent, it hasn’t been famous as being the friendliest to its neighbours. The country has attempted to join the European Union in 1987 after leaving what was then the Organisation of African Unity. They had left that organisation after it deemed to recognise the Western Sahara republic which has been annexed by its northern neighbour. This past year after over a thirty year hiatus Morocco, and its big paycheck, was welcomed back into the African Union in spite of some members who they had forgotten to bribe protesting about Western Sahara.

This welcome was quite apt where this festival was concerned as Africa was celebrated through the eleven member states of the Economic Community of Central Africa – ECCAS, guests of honor: Gabon, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, and Chad.

A large official delegation, comprising 8 ministers of culture and senior officials, as well as a cultural and professional delegation of 20 writers and 33 publishers, were present in Casablanca, making it possible to better discover the richness and diversity of African culture through a cultural program “guest of honor” and a varied documentary offer.

Professional meetings between Moroccan and Central African publishers have also been organized to advance partnerships in the field of publishing. In this spirit, Casablanca and the International Publishing and Book Fair have had the privilege of hosting the announcement of the creation of the “Alliance of Publishers of Central African Countries”.

This year the festival welcomed 702 exhibitors from 54 countries, including 353 direct exhibitors and 183 from Morocco, confirming the show’s international opening. All the exhibition stands covered an area of ​​more than 9,000 m² within the exhibition space of Casablanca. The show presented a documentary collection of more than 120,000 titles, half of which were published in the last three years, 66% in Arabic, 30% in French, 3% in English and 1% in other languages. The titles covered covered various fields: 24% in the field of literature, 16% in the social sciences, 17% in the children’s book, 8% in the religious book, 7% in science, 6% in philosophy , 6% for languages, while the rest is divided between economics, arts, history and geography.

The Ministry of Culture, with rigor and in collaboration with its partners, has ensured that the documentary heritage presented reflects the values ​​of tolerance and openness that characterize Morocco, thus leaving no room for books inciting hatred, Violence or anti-Semitism, or in opposition to the spiritual references of Islam in Morocco. The cultural program of this edition, organized by the Ministry of Culture and a number of foreign institutions, publishing houses, associations and cultural centers, presented no less than 690 activities, including 284 conferences and meetings and 353 Signatures, in addition to 53 youth activities organized at the Children’s Space of the Ministry of Culture booth.

Among the various spaces that have hosted these cultural activities, the large room “Africa”, with reference to the guest of honor, the room “Edmond Amran El Maleh” whose Salon celebrated the hundredth anniversary of this great Moroccan intellectual, While the third room bore the name of the Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta, on the occasion of the celebration of the Ibn Battuta Travel Prize, awarded by the Center “Irtiyad Al Afaq”, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture . Among the various cultural activities, led by leading figures from literature and personalities from different backgrounds, is the presentation of the Reading Prize in its third edition organized by the Reading Network in Morocco in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, to reward young schoolchildren for their interest in reading, deserves to be highlighted.

The Hub of Rights, in its second edition, as a space for the exchange and purchase of publishing rights, organized by the Ministry of Culture in partnership with “Maroc Export”, was attended by publishers And book professionals from 14 countries: Morocco, Germany, China, Egypt, Italy, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Cameroon, Gabon, Rwanda, Congo, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad.