Visitors to the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) began lining up to see Egyptian comedian Bassem Yousef almost two hours early. Age, language and nationality were no obstacle as people from all over the world lined up to see the man live.
The cardiac surgeon-turned-comedian hosted a live panel discussion alongside Arab interviewer Anas Bukhash where he touched on several topics, including his recent viral interview with Piers Morgan, the inspiration for his book Nadia’s Magical Reality, and how he spent months without work afterwards . move to Los Angeles.
Some visitors came with children as young as six months old, while others came with their parents and friends. Several audience members used live translation headsets to listen to the session which was conducted in Arabic. Some chose to cover themselves with the Palestinian keffiyeh scarf.
Entering the hall dressed in a crisp white jacket and jeans, Youssef was greeted with loud cheers and applause, as the audience rose in their chairs to watch him. For many, seeing it live was a dream come true.
Egyptian teenager Noora came to see her favorite comedian with her friend and family. “I’ve been a big fan of Bassem Youssef for a long time,” she said. “I think he came at a time when Egyptians needed a voice like his. His political satire has made him probably Egypt’s biggest celebrity.”
Noora said she had arrived at the Sharjah Expo Center at 4.30pm and had started queuing at 6.30pm. “When I got in the queue, it was long, but then it got longer,” she said. “I waited almost 45 minutes to get in and get a seat.”
Indian expat Nada Ahmed came to watch the argument along with her younger brother, whom she bribed with time on his phone. “I used headphones to understand what he was saying,” she said. “I was a little disappointed that she didn’t talk more about Palestine, but I understand that this is a book fair and she came to promote her book. “I’m happy to be able to see it.”
After the session, Youssef held a book signing session for his audience. Her book, ‘Nadia’s Magical Reality,’ tells the story of Nadia, a sixth-grade Egyptian migrant student dealing with high school drama at her school in America. She revealed that she developed the idea for the book based on her daughter’s experiences.
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