From 'Scattered Barriers' to 'Khaymat Ramadan
Dubai is known for famous fashionistas and bloggers online. Make up and fashion is always on trend. So imagine our surprise when we came across Abeer whose blog, lookingforabura and instagram page boasts almost 50,000 followers. Why is this shocking? Well Abeer is a book blogger in Dubai.
Spearheading the fast growing world of Bookstagram, her newsfeed is a delight to scroll through with beautifully taken images of books set up to reflect the themes and the world of the story. To date, Abeer's read over 500 books (we suspect more) and has no plans on stopping. What's interesting about Abeer's Instagram newsfeed, other than amazing photographs or the range of books she reads, is the engagement from her followers. It's strange that people keep telling us that print is dying and that young people don't read anymore.
"Before I thought that most of my followers were based internationally but now it's more Dubai based. More local readers are approaching me and they are mostly teenagers!" Abeer told City Times when she came to vist us in our offices.
It was truly a pleasure to meet the 25-year-old to discuss her greatest passions, reading and books.
The World of Bookstagram
In the same way a great story grips the reader, Abeer found herself completely overwhelmed with the world of bookstagraming. Not sure what that is? It's basically instagram for books, where book covers are the new faces of stories and the characters exist symbolically in an image as a way to attract new readers into a new world.
"When I arrived in Dubai two years ago I started Instagraming. Reading has always been my passion so I just tried to take photos of my books but I didn't know that bookstagram is a thing on instagram. I searched the hashtag and there are a lot of accounts that are dedicated to books and reading. That's when I started thinking, 'I can do this!' So I've been randomly posting photos of books online and then my followers started growing."
This got us curious. Why are so many people in Dubai following a book blogger when they should be focused on following the Kylie Jenner copycats of the world.
"I think they follow me because of the authenticity of my blog. I talk to them. I think mainly because I recommend books from all genres because there are readers who only like mystery or fantasy and stuff like that. But I read different genres. I like to discuss different things. So, when people ask me what is my favorite book, I have to ask, what genre do you mean?"
The World of Books
All of us have one book that changed how we viewed the world. A story or character that made us think about ourselves and our environment in a new way. A book that made us fall in love with reading.
"As cliché as it sounds I would say it's the Harry Potter books. I started reading it when I was 12 and that changed everything. I felt like I was growing up with him and the friendships he made. I felt that I was growing up with him, I felt like I was in the book and I just wanted to read more."
What about Dubai? Many of us know this year has been the official year of reading, but are we heading in the right direction to ensure that the next generation is equipped with books and stories to face the world in the best possible shape?
"I think we need more international authors, to be known here because for example, I'm reading a lot of Young Adult books and sometimes I tweet the authors, we tweet each other, and they want to know the Arab culture, they want to know what Dubai is like!"
It's a well known fact that reading helps to develop our minds, makes us smarter, more creative and prepares us for the world.
"I think reading is such an integral part of my life, and it should be with everyone else. Especially kids. It's nice to instill a passion for reading as young as possible. It opens you to new ideas, new worlds. In my experience people who read are more compassionate, more understanding, because when you read, you meet different characters, find yourself in different scenarios and sometimes it happens in real life."
"I think people who say that they have no time to read don't really see how important reading is. I think when you give them something worthwhile, like for example when someone doesn't really read, I don't give them a novel per say. I give them short stories, like a compilation of short stories, so that for everyday use they read two pages. That's something that would intrigue them."
What are your thoughts on giving up half way through the book?
"Sometimes before when I really had a hard time finishing a book, I felt as though I had to finish it even if it's not that good. Then I realised that I have a lot of books to read so I'll just leave it and maybe I'll pick it up later when I have the time. So I give myself until 200 pages and if those first 200 pages don't intrigue me or I don't really get into the book, I leave it.
Print or E-book?
"Personally I prefer print. I strongly believe that the printed word should be preserved, should be carried on. The experience is different with an actual book. It's different when you feel something tangible in your hands. I do use an eBook if I can't find the book in any bookstores."
"I want to start a project. I patterned this from Emma Watson's Book Club, in which I will leave a book at different places in Dubai and I will use my social media platforms to announce the location. I won't tell where exactly, just probably a famous landmark from the place. It's a bit fun, I think. I've started this on December 1. It's something that I'd want to contribute to the reading community. I'll make sure the books are UAE-qualified though."
If you could have a dinner party with four authors who would they be:
First of course is J.K Rowling, second with Neil Gaiman. He's my favorite author of all time! I would also like to talk to Ray Bradbury, I would like to ask him about the book that I just read and I think I will go with Arthur Conan Doyle!
Here are Abeer's recommendations to get you addicted to reading!
"It's a very easy book to read. I always recommend it actually. And when someone reads it they end up wanting to read more of his books. Because it's easy to get into and the world is so surreal, it feels realistic but at the same time it's magical."
It's a really good book and it's very easy to read as well. You don't need to be a reader to actually read it.
The Harry Potter Series
That's just a standard, everyone should read them (laughs).
Any book by John Green
That's your intro into Young Adult. He's great. I love him. I've read Looking for Alaska like five times. I actually named my blog after that. And his YouTube Channel is great.
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