Dubai: Their long daily work shifts and a salary that lets them barely make ends meet leaves them with few options for entertainment.
But workers living in and around Al Quoz are giving an overwhelming response to a relatively unusual activity — a book fair especially organised for them. Being held at Al Madina Hypermarket in Al Quoz 3 since December 27, the fair has become a roaring hit.
Every evening after work, a large number of workers turn up at the hypermarket looking for books. On weekends the crowd is so big that there is barely any space left to set foot inside shopping centre.
Over 1,000 titles, mostly in regional Indian languages, are on offer for as low as Dh3.
“I enjoy reading; it takes away all the worries. The last time I bought Malayalam books was when I visited India. I keep reading and re-reading them. I am happy to see the wide variety books in the fair,” Jai Kumar, a security guard, told XPRESS, as he picked up a few of his favourite titles, including Benyamin’s Anubhavam Ormaytra and Manjaveyil Marangal and Sethu’s Maru Piravi.
Ali, a driver, who is also an avid reader, said he often picks up Malayalam books from a bookstore in Karama. “I cannot afford to buy too many of them here, but sometimes I do go there. Here, I have a greater choice and the books are cheaper, so I am buying quite a few of them,” he said.
The book fair for workers — a first in Dubai — has been jointly organised by DC Books and Al Madina Hypermarket. “There is a lot of demand for regional language titles. Initially, we thought of having the fair for about a week, but seeing the response we decided to extend it,” Shakir from DC Books said.
Among the top-selling titles are Mukesh Kathakal by Mukesh and Kunju Karyangalude Odey Thamburan by Arundhati Roy, both in Malayalam; Rabindranath Tagore’s Manimal in Hindi; Karnama E-Shauq by Shepar Rasool and Sehra Ki Dhoop by Sahir Shiwee in Urdu; Azhaku Mayil and Malathi, both by Akhila Kumar in Tamil; and Nadi Eradara Naduvey by Dr P. Prabhakar Shishil in Kannada.
T. Arun, COO, Al Madina Hypermarket, said: “The sale has been beyond our expectations. We thought there wouldn’t be much response. We will organise the fair on a much bigger scale next time.” The book fair ends on January 10.