10-day festival of reading comes to a close

Jeddah book fair receives fabulous response from the public


Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH – The 3rd edition of the Jeddah International Book Fair, which concluded on Sunday at the Events Land in South Obhur Corniche, was a bonanza for book lovers in the city and surrounding regions.

The fair gave them a golden opportunity to grab their sought after books from among 200,000 titles displayed, in addition to make close interactions with their favorite Saudi and Arab authors.

The 10-day event, with the theme of “Book is culture,” also witnessed around 50 diverse cultural programs and activities.

On a tour of the book fair, Saudi Gazette witnessed visitors packing the parking areas of the venue from Saturday morning. Most visitors were young Saudi men and women, as well as families with a sizeable number of children.

A number of visitors expressed their joy over their celebration of the festival of reading and entertainment, which turned out to be an exciting experience to both booksellers and authors.

According to Waleed Bafaqeeh, director general of the branch of Ministry of Culture and Information in Makkah region, the book fair tended to quench the thirst of avid readers and book fans in the city. “The fair was instrumental in creating cultural awareness, intellectual awakening, eliciting the love of reading and reconnecting members of the community with books in the digital age,” he said.

One of the most important highlights of the fair was the overwhelming response from the young Saudis. It showed the keenness of the ministry, the main organizer, in keeping pace with the latest trends in the publishing industry.

Saudi book lover Dr. Nabeel Al-Hammad, general manager of Professionals Human Resources Development Company, told Saudi Gazette that the huge turnout at the fair brought home the message that the Saudi society was vibrantly coming back to the reading habit, which remains a priority for them even in this digital age.

“It is fabulous to see such a tremendous response to the festival of books at a time when there is a big drop in the readership of newspapers and periodicals in the Kingdom and elsewhere in the world,” he said.

Al-Hammad, a passionate reader, who visited several book fairs in the Kingdom and abroad, noted that there has been a new trend gaining momentum to bring out books with more visuals and images in order to attract the young generation to book reading.

“These images speak directly to the kids’ brain by arousing their imagination and thus helping them to absorb information effectively. This trend was obvious with the display of books with illustrations in most branches of knowledge, especially science and history,” he said.

A major attraction of this year’s fair was the display of a huge canvas with a total of 4,100 pictures of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman at the pavilion of King Abdullah Center for the Care of Disabled Children. It was designed by more than 300 children of the center and a number of plastic artists and painters with the help of decoupage paper technology.

The online purchase facility at the pavilion of the Riyadh-based publishing house Bookccino received a tremendous response from the visitors.

The Agency for Cultural Relations at the Ministry of Culture and Information took the initiative for hosting the 28-nation European Union, as well as the United States, France, Japan, Belgium, and Turkmenistan with their distinctive cultural programs, acrobatic show, screening of documentary films and children’s films, theatrical and musical shows, art gallery, and a workshop on Japanese script.

The Real Estate Committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry participated highlighting investment opportunities for developers and investors in the real estate sector.

One important feature this year was an increase in the number of pavilions dedicated to children’s books and learning tools. These stalls drew the majority of visitors.

The pavilion of Jeddah Education Department named “Jeddah Reads” focused on materials for sports education and sports activities for children with the theme of “Together to the zenith.”

Around 30 private and public kindergartens in the city participated in the fair. There were 12 educational and entertainment corners at the pavilion of “Women and Children” with the title of “Nurturing of Children on love of reading.”

More than 200 authors were present throughout the event and they signed copies of their books for their fans. This year women authors, 111 in number, surpassed their male counterparts, who stood at 86 in the signature session. They included novelists, short story writers, poets, and children’s authors.