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London’s Al Saqi Books Closes Its Doors End of December

London’s Al Saqi Books Closes Its Doors End of December

Thursday, 8 December, 2022 - 07:15

Sad news! London’s Al Saqi Books, which served as a cultural center for 44 years, announced closing its doors on December 31.

The general situation, long lockdowns, and the increasing costs of papers and shipping have aggravated the crisis of libraries, publishers, and everything related to books. Like many victims affected in these fragile professions, especially those working in the field of Arabic books, this esteemed library, which played a central role for Arabs and non-Arabs interested in Arabic books in the UK, has decided to put an end to its journey.

“The various lockdowns and the ensuing breakdown of supply chains negatively impacted many independent businesses, such as ours. But as a specialist Arab-world bookseller sourcing our stock from the Middle East and North Africa, we also had to contend with sharp increases in Arabic-language book prices, shipping charges and exchange rates,” owner Salwa Gaspard told the Bookseller Magazine.

“For me, Al Saqi is more than just a library. I grew up in Al Saqi, my sister and I spent hours playing around books. I was honored to work in it with my parents. We will miss the library but we are looking forward to the next chapter in Al Saqi history from our new location in western London. We are thrilled to bring the best new and classic books from the Arab world to the United Kingdom and other countries within the coming years,” saddened Lyn Gaspard said about the library that her parents co-founded with Mai Ghoussoub.

Al Saqi Books, London, was established in 1979 by friends Mai Ghoussoub and Andre Gaspard, it was the first Arabic library in the UK. In 1982, they opened a special section in the library for English books about the Middle East, and then launched English publishing in 1983. Al Saqi started Arabic publishing in 1987 supported by its strong ties with its readers and other London-based publishers.

Dar Al Saqi publishing was founded in Beirut, in 1991, pledging to promote intellectual innovation and the renaissance of Arabic culture.

It acted as a bridge between the Arabic and western cultures by encouraging dialogue, introducing the western culture to the Arab readers, and showcasing causes that concern the Arabic society in the west.

The Arabic publishing house, which also established “Al Saqi Kids and Youth” in 2012, won many prizes. After its closure in London, Al Saqi is still alive and struggling for survival in Beirut.

“Although Al Saqi is closing its doors in London, its heritage will continue with its two independent publishing houses: Dar Al Saqi for Arabic Publishing (Beirut), and Saqi Books for English publishing in London,” Dar Al Saqi said in a statement.

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