What are the best websites to buy Arabic books?
Whether you hate or love it: if you want to buy Arabic books, amazon is not the best place. There are many specialized online book sellers for Arabic books – novels in Arabic, Islamic books, book on Arabic grammar, etc.
Over the years, I have used many of them to fill my personal library. I would like tell you about my experiences, so you may save yourself the hassle. Here are some recommendations.
Some of the shops are based in the EU or in the USA, others ship directly from the Middle East.
This is probably the best first choice if you are looking for a particular book. They have a great selection of books, also older ones.
They ship with DHL and provide a tracking number. Payment can be done via credit card (secure connection!) which is pretty convenient.
- Great selection
- Ship worldwide using DHL
- Secure payment (credit card)
- Shipping is expensive
- Usually you don’t get the best deals (prices) – although you may get a discount (5 to 10 %)
- Website is only in Arabic (except for completing your order – there you can opt for English
- Delivery time: Fast – usually around 7 working-days to Germany
- Costs (for 2 books including shipping, dealing with customs, handling): you usually will end up paying around 70 USD.
- Web: http://www.neelwafurat.com
- E-Mail: email@example.com
If you are looking for a book that is out of print at many stores, try Dar al-Salam. They have almost every Arabic book in their warehouse.
They ship with EMS (Express Mail Service) and provide you with a tracking number. Payment can be done via Western Union or Money Gram in US-Dollars. Once you have completed your order, they usually send you an email with a special offer (discount and shipping costs) and tell you the banking account number (SWIFT transfer). If you have troubles sending the money via Western Union, try the TranserWise (low fees, fast, reliable).
- Usually the cheapest and best offer. They will often give foreign customers a discount.
- Helpful and very polite staff. They respond very quickly in case there is a problem (I once had a delivery problem, they solved it for me in Cairo).
- Payment cannot be made via Paypal or credit card.
- Cons: They recently launched a new website which is a bit slow. If you cannot find your book, just email them. I would recommend to write the email in Arabic.
- Delivery time: Fast – usually around 7 working-days to Germany
- Costs (for 2 books including shipping, dealing with customs, handling): you usually will end up paying around 40 USD.
- Web: http://www.daralsalam.com
- E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Note: I only communicated in Arabic with them. But I am sure they will also respond in English.
If you are looking for books printed in Lebanon, this is a good place to look for. Their warehouse is based in Beirut, Lebanon. Very user friendly, good customer support. However, Lebanon is a tough place to get stuff out of the country (similar to Egypt). Thus, shipping costs and a so-called handling fee are high. They usually ship with DHL (pretty fast but also pretty expensive; tracking number).
- Very good customer support – in English
- Good and fast website
- If there is a problem, they send you back the money instantly without any hassle.
- High shipping/handling costs
- Delivery time: Very fast – 5 to 7 days to Germany
- Costs (for 2 books including shipping, dealing with customs, handling): you usually will end up paying around 50 USD.
- Web: https://www.arabicbookshop.net
If you live in the EU, that is a great place to order Arabic and Islamic books. They offer some of the classics of Arabic grammar and dictionaries. Especially if you are interested in works written by Salafi authors, you will find good offers. Be prepared that they don’t offer Islamic books written by liberal thinkers and authors. Very reliable, quick service plus good offers. Delivery is fast and cheap (including tracking number). Check out their discounts (mainly during Islamic holidays such as Ramadan, etc.)
- Shipping costs are very low (but nonetheless very reliable)
- Really fast
- Payment can be made via Paypal or credit card
- English speaking support
- Relatively narrow selection regarding Arabic grammar books. But to be fair, I wouldn’t count that as a negative thing. It is just that they mainly focus on (Salafi) Islamic books.
- Delivery time: Very fast – 3 to 5 days to Germany
- Costs (for 2 books including shipping): you usually will end up paying around 20 USD. (Note: I paid in Euros).
- Web: https://www.sifatusafwa.com
al-Manhal, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
They have a great variety of Arabic books (literature!) in stock. And it is a good place if you still don’t feel comfortable to deal with people in Arabic – because their site is available in English and their service agents speak English.
- Good website (in English) – you can even search in English and also get results for Arabic books
- You can easily track your package
- Many payment options – even bitcoins!
- Great and very friendly (English speaking) support
- Delivery worldwide (by Aramex)
- They don’t offer too many books on Arabic grammar (mostly contemporary literature and some classics)
- In general, prices are a bit higher
- Shipping costs may be high.
- You cannot place your order directly if you live in Europe. You should email them.
- In Europe, you have to pay customs. Al Manhal ships books with Aramex. Aramex, at least in Germany, works with third party companies to deal with the customs office. They charge around 30 Euros for this service PLUS custom fees.
- Delivery time: Around a week to Germany.
- Shipping costs (for 2 books, destination Germany): 25 USD.
- Customs in Germany for three books (value around 30 Dollars) : 7 Euros. Plus fee for the company that does the declaration. In total: 37 Euros.
- For three books you are likely to pay 90 Euros at the end.
- Web: http://store.almanhal.com
Disclaimer: Note that I don’t get commisson or whatsoever from the above mentioned book stores.
Remark: If readers from the USA (and outside Europe) have bought books at one of the mentioned shops, please let me know about the shippings costs and I will add them. Shipping costs on this page are based on a delivery to Germany. Furthermore, the calculation is based on two “standard” paperback books. Usually, books are much cheaper in the Arab world. It is mainly about getting them out of the country…
Pictures: Gerald Drißner; Pixabay (Tanim Mahbub)
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