BAGHDAD, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) — The Iraqi capital Baghdad hosts the 47th session of the Baghdad International Book Fair with strict measures to protect visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 11-day exhibition kicked off on Dec. 9 with the participation of more than 300 publishers from 21 countries, bringing around one million books.

Ahmed Khazal, a member of the exhibition organizing committee, told Xinhua that the exhibition hosts dozens of artistic, cultural, and media events, including folk dancing, singing, and poetry, in addition to seminars on a variety of topics.

As the exhibition attracted a large number of Iraqis, the organizers imposed several measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including providing masks at the entrances of the halls, and urging the visitors to maintain social distancing.

In an attempt to reflect the spirit of the traditional al-Mutanabi Street — the historic center of Baghdad’s bookselling industry, the exhibition organizers made the street between the fair’s five main halls as an outdoor market for al-Mutanabi’s bookstores with Iraqi coffee and tea.

“The owners of the famous bookshops of original al-Mutanabi Street can display their books, which cover scientific, literary and cultural fields,” Safaa al-Saadi, a bookshop owner told Xinhua.

The participation of the Arab countries has a fundamental role in attracting visitors, especially researchers and students, according to al-Saadi.

Samir Ibrahim, an owner of an Egyptian publisher, told Xinhua that “the organization of the exhibition is good and we have a great demand for Egyptian books among the Iraqi public.” Egypt has been a constant participant in Baghdad International Book Fair for years.

Although the fear of infection with coronavirus was a constant concern of the organizers, participants, and visitors, Ghassan Hussein, deputy of the Jordanian Publishers Union, said that the Iraqi organizers have taken good precautions.

“They paid attention to the organizational issues as well as the health-protective measures to prevent infections with the coronavirus despite the presence of a great number of visitors in the exhibition,” Hussein told Xinhua.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi opened on December 9 the book fair. “Culture is the basis for change in every society, and the book represents the main element in any process of cultural reform,” al-Kadhimi addressed at the opening ceremony.

The 47th session of the Baghdad International Book Fair was scheduled to be held in March, but it was postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

As of December 12, the total number of coronavirus infections in the country reached 573,622 cases with 12,565 deaths, according to data from the Iraqi Ministry of Health. Enditem

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