Astrology books have topped the list of bestsellers in Bahrain over the last week of December and first week of the new year.
"The rush to buy astrology books is amazing," a bookseller in the trendy Seef Mall shopping complex said. "Even though they are not usually cheap, they have been exceptionally popular and we sold many of them," he said.
Shoppers included Bahrainis, Saudis and nationals from the region, he said. "The other books, ranging from history to political discourse to social issues were rather
forgotten in the last ten days and first week of January when the focus was mainly on predictions for the year 2012," the seller who did not wish to be identified said.
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Gulf nationals tend not to be superstitious amid a deep-rooted religious setting that strongly believes in divine destiny, but the onslaught of the media, mainly television channels, talk about New Year predictions that came true has raised interest in the issue.
"I never believed in predictions because I know they are not true," Narmeen Osama, an office clerk, said. "However, every now and then, I read or listen to the horoscope, mainly out of curiosity, especially that they are readily available on TV, the radio and in the newspapers," she said.
For Dana Mohammad, a college student, books that claim to tell people about the future of the world, teach them or give them tips about specific issues should not be taken seriously. "I have just seen books in an Arab capital that tell girls how to find husbands," she said.
"This is ridiculous. I understand that some people or publishers want to sell books or magazines, but I do not think that they can really exploit people's emotions or vulnerability to boost their names or sales," she said.
Last January, a Kuwaiti lawmaker pressed the local authorities to deny entry to a Lebanese astrologer, citing concerns about "abusing and stealing money from naïve and desperate people."