Thursday, May 06, 2021 | Ramadan 23, 1442 H
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Raising awareness for reading books despite odds


It is very difficult not to notice some books kept on one of the corner benches adjacent to the walkway on the Muscat’s Al Qurum beach. New visitors, who look for reasons for the books kept amid the humdrums of walkers and merrymakers, find a decent young man standing just behind the books telling them that he is there to raise awareness for books and more importantly to inculcate reading habit among youngsters.

Tariq bin Ali al Kaabi explains about the books to the curious onlookers in an effort to convince them that there is no alternative to books in paper form as he wants to spread sense for books among one and all while enjoying the fresh air at the beachfront.

From doing his diploma in mathematics to serving his father’s law firm, Tariq wore many hats at a very young age of 24. His chance visit to Oman from Iran as a tourist and getting stuck in the country during the COVID-19 travel restrictions, changed his course of life. By his forced overstay in Oman, he started liking the country, its people and way of life.

Tariq came to Muscat as a tourist just before the spread of the COVID-19.

He managed to visit Muscat International Book Fair where he got in touch with some good people and got a sense that some Omanis have fairly better sense for books. He added some more books to his existing collection. By the time he decided go back to his home country, there was ban on international flights. Left with no option he started passing time by reading books and managed to make both ends meet with the help of some local friends.

Asked for the reason behind choosing the location to keep his collection of books to raise awareness, Tareq quipped, “Simply it was an idea after I went to the beach on one night and spent time there. Since the facilities at the beach were too expensive for me, I decided to do something constructive and sat with my collection of books at one corner of the beachfront. Moreover, I love the sea and calmness around it.”

“I did not count the number of visitors, but I can say with confidence that no one can pass without having a look at the platform, even for taking pictures or carefully reviewing the titles being offered. Since I am keeping only English books, many suggested adding Arabic titles,” said Tareq, while talking about response for his venture to encourage reading habit among the youngsters.

For books, Tareq does not find any competition from Internet, as he believes that the “Internet world is beautiful, and it is no secret that it has provided us many new things… but for me it has not succeeded in replacing the books in paper form.”

He is hugely thankful to Professor Ayman al Maashari and Shaikh Talal al Ahseni for being with him in difficult times and making him able to stay in this beautiful country.

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