The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) together with the Arab Network for Research and Publishing (ANRP) opened a new bookshop on the ground floor of the ACRPS offices in central Beirut on May 26, 2016.
At a time of regional economic slowdown, a decline in the levels of reading across the Arab world and depressed sales of books published in the region, the launch of a bookshop constitutes a bold initiative in the field of books and culture. Occupying two floors and providing space for those who wish to sit and read while drinking a cup of coffee this bookshop is a cultural project, and will serve as a meeting place for cultural activities and as a cultural coffeehouse – an emerging trend seen in other Arab countries including Cairo, Tunisia and Morocco. The bookshop is distinguished in that it comprises books published in both the Mashreq and the Maghreb, something rarely found in bookshops across Beirut. This follows from the research activities of the ACRPS, which cover Arab issues from the Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean. Equally, the ANRP is an active publisher and distributor in all the Arab countries.
The bookshop currently stocks hundreds books in fields such as philosophy, sociology, politics, and political theory, books that are not limited to works produced by the ACRPS and the Network, but include titles from Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and the Gulf states. The bookshop seeks to make available academic books from different Arab publishers, particularly works rarely found in regular booksellers across Lebanon, giving the venture additional significance as an aid to researchers and readers in locating key Arab references and academic works other than the university libraries in Lebanon that are closed to the public.
The number of books available is set to rise and the bookshop will be hosting various cultural events such as book launches, including ACRPS publications, poetry readings, or discussions of books.
At the opening, which was attended by dozens of writers, journalists, intellectuals and publishers, the director of the ACRPS Beirut branch Dr. Khalid Ziyada said in his inaugural address, “At a time when bookshops are closing and reading is in decline, the determination to open this bookshop comes as part of the commitment to revive Arabic culture. No matter the medium or format or mechanism, the book will remain the incubator of ideas, knowledge, the novel, study, and research. Without books there is no revival and no progress.”
The director of the ANRP, Professor Nawwaf al-Qudaimi, explained that the Network was founded in 2007 as a publishing house, and then expanded with the setting up of its branch in Cairo in 2011 and in Tunis in 2013, and is currently participating in the opening of this bookshop in Beirut. Al-Qudaimi also added that the Network is working to also open a branch is Istanbul.