World’s largest floating book fair docks in Malé

Additional reporting by Daniel Bosley

The Logos Hope – dubbed the “world’s largest floating book fair” – operated by the German Christian charitable organization GBA Ships is currently visiting the Maldives as part of the vessel’s tour around the world.

According to the Logos Hope website, the original Logos had visited the country forty years ago – in 1973.

“Many in the Maldives still remember stepping on board Logos as children in 1973 or the visit of Doulos in 1998,” read a statement released on the group’s website.

“It is very special that we can return after many years with a bigger ship,” Logos Hope Director Lloyd Nicholas was quoted as saying.

“It’s a newer ship but still with the same purpose, same good books and with a desire to serve in the countries Logos Hope visits.” He added.

Beginning life as a car ferry in 1973, the vessel spent its first 30 operating ferry services around northern Europe and Scandinvia, before being bought and refurbished by GBA Ships in 2003 .

After the completion of renovations in 2009, the Logos Hope has travelled the globe – taking in the Caribbean, the Middle East and South East Asia – promoting GBA’s goal of spreading education and quality literature.

GBA – Gute Bücher für Alle or ‘Good Books for All’ – claims to have welcomed over 42 million people in 150 countries aboard its numerous vessels since 1970, making 1400 ports of call, and offering training to around 10,000 young people.

An official reception was held yesterday to open the book fair which was attended by Minister of Youth & Sports, Mohamed Maleeh Jamal, as well as other senior government officials

A large number of Maldivians were seen boarding the ship and buying books as well as enjoying the cheap coffee available at the ship’s International Cafe’ – staffed by the Logos Hope’s all-volunteer crew.

Minivan News observed that all purchases made from the ship were checked by customs official present, before being taken out of the ship. According to an official on the Vessel, all purchases above MVR6,000 (US$389.10) were subject to custom duties.

Some book shelves on board had been sealed off, making their content unavailable to Maldivian visitors. GBA normally makes Christian literature available to shoppers, however, materials deemed “offensive to Islam” are prohibited in the Maldives.

According to the organisation’s website, Logos Hopes book fair will be open to the public until the evening of Friday, December 20. The ship is docked in Malé’s commercial harbour area.