ABU DHABI // Families flocked to the annual Abu Dhabi International Book Fair yesterday, with parents and children keen to snap up everything from fairy tales to factual tomes.
For all of the event's 23 editions, families traditionally visit on the Friday and pack the venue.
"I have been here a few times and it is always the same," said Sanjay Batr, from Chowdhury Export House, a publisher.
"Friday is the day that all the families come and what they are looking for is mostly children's books."
Based in New Delhi, this is Chowdhury's fifth consecutive appearance at the book fair.
A regular on the book fair circuit, Mr Batr said families in Abu Dhabi desired the same things as those in Sharjah, Qatar and in Nigeria.
"They want books the whole family can enjoy," he said. "We make sure we have a variety of stock so everyone can be happy."
Doors opened at 4pm yesterday and the Friday night rush was a first-time experience for Jehad Shebaro.
Manning the Beirut-based Arabic Scientific Press booth, this was his debut appearance at the book fair. Selling a wide range of titles - from children's science books to Arabic translations of Danielle Steel and Dan Brown novels, Mr Shebaro enjoyed the buzz children created at the event.
"It is very impressive," he said. "The families here are open to a lot of different books and it is always good to see children coming to any book fair."
Ahmed Nassar, a resident of Abu Dhabi, agreed. The Islamic Finance House employee came to the fair with his two daughters, aged 4 and 5.
"It's becoming a kind of family tradition," the Egyptian said.
"My daughters have a list of books they want, so no one is going anywhere until we get them."
Also at the fair yesterday was Elizabeth Kassab, a winner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.
The Lebanese academic picked up the prestigious accolade, under the Contribution to the Development of Nations stream, for her book Contemporary Arabic Thought.
Her thought-provoking session on the Discussion Sofa at the fair centred on the need to cultivate critical thinking in the region, particularly in Arab academic institutions.
"It is still unreal to me that I have been given this award considering the type of book this is," she said. "This is why I am so grateful and it is really meaningful to me. It gives me confidence."
The book fair runs until Monday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.