Monthly Archives: October 2007



You can wear anything while reading!


First, some statistics:

 – Arab countries’ output of books represents just 1.1 percent of the world total, although Arabs constitute 5% of the world’s population. This is less than what a country such as Turkey produces, with a population about one-quarter that of the Arab countries.

– The Arab world translates about 330 books annually, one fifth of the number that Greece translates.

– Print runs of Arab books are very low, ranging for the average novel between 1,000 and 3,000 copies only. A book that sells just 5,000 copies is considered a bestseller.

– Arab book publishing has been threatened by three factors: censorship and the practice of banning books among the 22 Arab states; low readership, blamed on economic stagnation and competition from the mass media; and the lack of adequate distribution of books across the Arab world.


– In February 2007, there were approximately 110 billion distinct web sites.

– Arab web sites amount to only 0.01% of world content.

– Islamic web pages comprise almost 65% of the total number of Arabic websites

– Internet users in the Arab world number 14 million

– As reported by Al-Hayat, 76% of the Internet users are males and 24% are females.

– Most Arab states (especially KSA and Tunisia) have resorted to the traditional methods of curtailing, filtering and censorship of all websites.

Back to reading in the Arab world:
It’s a shame to see numbers like this coming out of the Arab world.
More importance should be given to book writing, publishing and reading. Children should be brought up to read more, writers should be given more freedom and more encouraging circumstances to write, more effort should be put into translating important works of art, literature and science.

The responsibility falls on the Arab governments, universities, cultural and scientific institutions, publishers, writers, translators, bloggers, readers and families who have to all work together to change this shameful reality to a brighter one.

According to a study done in 2005 on women teacher training, more than 41 percent of the women during their training never borrowed books from the library and 70 percent read only textbooks and other assigned material. Also, 66 percent of the readers read only general subjects in women’s magazines though 71.6 percent of the women said they believed that reading was for pleasure.


After those findings, an UN specialist said that at one time during their history, the Arabs were reading to learn but in the present day, they were simply learning to read.


There was further shock when a recent Lebanese newspaper reported that Arabs read an average of seventeen minutes in a year. There is no mistake — this is not a daily, weekly or monthly average but the time spent reading in one full year. The problem is further worsened by 65 million illiterate women in the Arab world. What is the excuse for such ignorance and illiteracy among a people whose first revealed religious command was ‘Read’?


One Arab writer is worthy of attention; he said the strongest love story in human history is man’s passion for books. It is an eternal love. The passion for books may surpass all other passions as it springs from the instinct to satisfy curiosity. This curiosity is motivated by a sincere desire to create a better life on earth.


I guess most Arabs would not know what I am talking about!