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Priceless old books on display
BY SALMA ALALEM November 06, 2016
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SHARJAH: Dar Eqtina’a for old printed books and manuscripts, based in Madina El Munnawarah – KSA, has showcased unique printed books and manuscripts at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF). Eqtina’a” is an Arabic word which means acquisition or owning something. 

“Dar Eqtina’a has very old printed books and manuscripts dating as back as 500 years ago in various languages including Arabic, English, Latin and Spanish.

Unique book

The oldest printed book at Dar Eqtina’a is a very unique book. The Latin translation of Panchatantra by John Capua is an influential work of the world literature that includes 118 woodcuts.

This copy belongs to the 15th century dating 1489.

Also, there is an important translation of the Bidpai and Lukman Fables by Antoine Galland, the famous French translator of the Arabian Nights. This book belongs to 1724.

The first edition of the ten-volume catalogue of Arabic manuscripts (1877-1887) by the German Orientalist, William Alord, was shown among the unique books. It has a copy kept at the Royal Library of Berlin.


Mohammed Qasim, owner of Dar Eqtina’a, who established it ten years ago, mentioned that it was his hobby and interest at the beginning to own some unique and old printed books and manuscripts.

Then, it turned into a business as there were many officials, ministers, and antiquaries who were interested in owning such items.


“There are various old printed books more than the manuscripts, as well as the Ottoman Atlases and maps for the Arab and Islamic region between the 15th to 19th centuries,” he said.

Old is gold

When asked about the financial aspect, Qasim said that the more the books and manuscripts get older, the more it becomes costlier.

“Despite the entire economic crisis, the cost is still high and there are people who want to own such unique items,” he added.

Good opportunity

Discussing his participation at SIBF, he said that it is a good opportunity to let people know about Eqtina’a. It is also a good business opportunity to sell the unique items.

“Around three people from the government and private sector including some ministers and museum specialists have purchased some of our old books and manuscripts,” he said.

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