MIDAN: More than 200 publishers and other related organizations are taking part in the inaugural Madinah Book Fair, which kicked off at the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Exhibition and Conference Center on Thursday.
During the opening ceremony, Mohammed Hassan Alwan, CEO of the event’s organizer, the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission, said: “The commission seeks to build its role in the book fair industry on the basis of partnerships and integration foundation, and we also aim to provide city residents with a renewed cultural scene, and we hope to provide book fair publishing industry beneficial, culturally and economically viable.
“We want the city’s book fair to be an annual exhibition with a distinctive position on the map of Arab book fairs.”
The 10-day event, held under the patronage of Madinah Governor Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, continues until June 25. It includes workshops, cultural and theatrical programs and events for children that provide a window into the creative literature and publishing industry.
In a June 6 post on Twitter, the official Saudi Book Fairs account wrote: “In the heart of Madinah, the #Madinah_Book_Fair_2022 cultural program activities are launched to provide an integrated learning journey that promises visitors a unique culture”.
Organizers said the event aims to improve the cultural status of Madinah, boost the Saudi publishing industry, encourage cultural exchanges between countries, provide an integrated journey for readers and highlight the role of reading in raising awareness and improving the quality of life.
Eleven nations participate in the fair: 10 Arab countries — Kuwait, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Mauritania, Jordan, Egypt and Sudan — and the United Kingdom.
Of the more than 200 participating publishers and related organizations, more than 80 are from the Kingdom, including universities, research centers, foundations, commissions, bookstores and libraries. The event drew huge crowds on the first day.
Amir Alsaiegh, a 46-year-old literature professor and self-proclaimed bibliophile, told Arab News: “I came today with two suitcases to fill them with selections of books that I came to choose from the fair.
“I have a long list for today and am happy with the large number of publishers available here. The show exceeded my expectations.
Ibtihal Al-Jabri, 17, visited the fair with her three sisters who, like her, are all book lovers.
“I was so excited for the book fair when they first announced it two weeks ago,” she said.
Her sister Nouf, 22, added: “This event is the first of its kind in Medina; I had been waiting for it for so many years. I love it and I’m ready to come here every day.
Attractions included immersive offerings in Arabic and English for children, including educational theater performances and workshops on topics such as storytelling, crafts, drawing, writing, interactive reading, arts of heritage, Arabic calligraphy and philosophy.
Six-year-old Samia Al-Nahdi said, “I love to read. I came today with my parents because they like to read, like me.
The Medina Book Fair is part of the Book Fair Initiatives, one of the strategic initiatives of the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission which aims to organize fairs across the Kingdom to give Saudi readers the opportunity to explore works published by local, Arab and international publishers and learn about the latest developments in the publishing industry.
To accompany the start of the book fair, two other events took place on Thursday. The first was the opening of a new museum at the King Abdul Aziz Complex for Waqf Libraries, which was inaugurated by Prince Faisal.
Fahad Al-Wahbi, secretary general of the organization, told Arab News: “Today the complex is participating in this museum, which aims to shed light on a group of important archaeological and historical collectibles, which range from ancient manuscripts, some of which date back thousands of years, to valuable rare Qurans that represent different historical periods, and collectibles from the Prophet’s Mosque.
The other event was for the King Salman Charter for Architecture and Urban Planning, an organization that celebrates the essence of Salmani architecture, which organized an exhibition that was first held in Riyadh before visiting Jeddah , Abha and Dhahran, and who has now arrived in Medina.
Sumaya Al-Sulaiman, CEO of the Architecture and Design Commission of the Ministry of Culture, told Arab News: “We also brought it to Expo Dubai 2021, and we are taking it internationally. because it is an international methodology that we believe can be applied everywhere.
“This is one of 33 initiatives that we have within the Architecture and Design Commission. This is one of the first and most important, given the scale and impact we anticipate.
She said the exhibition aims to reflect that “the experience we had in the city of Riyadh through the patronage of King Salman was so influential that there was a development of identity in the city of Riyadh through multiple projects that we have seen.
“From an architectural point of view, the charter presents a masterpiece that has gained international recognition. There are six values in the charter which are guiding principles, including continuity and authenticity, … individual and community (and) the last values are related to innovation and sustainability.