More than 500 publishing houses are taking part in the 10-day fair, one of the largest cultural events in the Kingdom
RIYADH, March 15 (CIC) – The Riyadh International Book Fair has opened in the Saudi capital, with some 500 publishing houses from around the world taking part in one of the largest cultural events in the Kingdom, which is expected to draw thousands of visitors.
More than 60,000 titles from a range of genres are on offer for readers of all age groups. The 10-day fair at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center is being held under the theme, “The Book is the Future of Transformation,” and is under the patronage of King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Dr Awwad Alawwad, the Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, said in a speech on the opening day on Wednesday that this year’s theme “stresses that the exhibition keeps pace with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030” and that it has created “a milestone in the Middle Eastern cultural movement”.
“It may be considered one of the biggest exhibitions held on a yearly basis, so we are keen to maintain this gain and support the exhibition to maintain its position.
“Therefore, we have this year more than 500 publishers, which is a very large addition that will enrich the visitors this year, and we were keen this year to hold accompanying events, so the book fair will be accompanied by more than 80 events, 15 of which are devoted to reading activities and art, which will have a big influence on the cultural movement’s development.”
The fair, organised by the Ministry of Culture and Information, will welcome visitors until March 24. In addition to offering books at discounted rates, the fair will also feature literary discussion, seminars and workshops.
The event aims to serve as a cultural bridge between Arab readers, writers and scholars and the rest of the world. It provides an opportunity for networking between publishers, writers, scholars and academic institutions by enabling quality exchanges between authors, publishers and readers. One of the main objectives of the fair is to promote reading among young Saudis as part of the development of the Kingdom’s knowledge-based economy.
This year’s Guest of Honor is the United Arab Emirates, which is represented by more than 20 publishing houses. Each year a country is nominated as the guest of honour and is allocated a special pavilion for it to display its culture and literature.
“Choosing the United Arab Emirates reflects the strong relations between the two countries, in addition to the UAE’s cultural and civilizational heritage, which is a model of civilizational coexistence among countries,” Dr Alawwad said in his speech on Wednesday evening.
Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, who headed a high-ranking delegation, said in her inaugural speech: “This kind gesture adds a new line in the history of the mutual, extended cohesion and interdependence between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It embodies the historical relations that link the two brotherly peoples based on mutual understanding, cultural and historical heritage, values, customs and common social traditions.”
She added: “A nation that does not read is one that lives on the margins of history and civilisations. Reading helps us embrace the stars; it is the way to creativity and the means to build a generation of inventors and thinkers.”
Choosing her country as a guest of honor “is a tribute to the UAE for its leading role in various fields of thought and culture; it is also an opportunity to showcase and share our literature, history and publications. I hope that this exhibition will be a new incentive to strengthen the relations between the countries participating in the exhibition,” she said.
The UAE Pavilion will host poetry nights, cultural seminars, and children’s programmes, in addition to the ‘Youth Circle’ – a youth seminar organised by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development in cooperation with the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation, MiSK, and the Arab Youth Centre.
Also taking part in the fair are officials from some 17 Emirati cultural institutions, including the National Archives, the Emirates Writers’ Union, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, The Emirates Heritage Club, the Emirates Publishers Association, the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and Abu Dhabi Media, among others.
Last year, the Riyadh International Book Fair attracted more than 500,000 visitors and over 500 international publishing houses from the Arab world and beyond.