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Publisher: Maaal International Media Company
*By Prof. Alaa Alghamdi
The Riyadh International Book Fair has become among the most sought-after events in the Middle East and North African region, inviting well-established publishers worldwide to gather and flaunt their latest works, such as books, connect with potential readers, exchange creative ideas, and establish partnerships. Riyadh’s most recent event spanned over a week (from September 28th – October 7th). It offered a myriad of literary activities and attractions, from book signings to deep-thinking panel discussions, enticing visitors from different experiences, backgrounds, and age groups. The 2023 edition of the Riyadh International Book Fair was an incredibly prosperous event for publishers, generating a whopping 1.8 billion Saudi riyals (equivalent to approximately US$480 million). This staggering increase from the previous year’s earnings of over 1.5 billion Saudi riyals speaks volumes about the rapidly growing interest in literature and reading in Saudi Arabia. The prosperous outcome of this event is a testament to the country’s commendable efforts to support and enrich its cultural landscape.
The Riyadh International Book Fair provides a platform for local writers to showcase their works and reach a wider audience. The fair has attracted numerous renowned international authors who have shared their insights and experiences with the general public. Named “An Inspiring Destination,” the fair is the most extensive event in the Kingdom and the Arab world. It is commendable for its diverse cultural programs and various activities. The fair encompassed over 200 events, including seminars, poetry evenings, and workshops hosted by the Saudi Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission at its new headquarters at King Saud University from the 28th of September to the 7th of October. A substantial portion of the event was dedicated to younger readers, while musical events and local, international, and theatrical performances also attracted visitors.
Past fairs have attracted strong participation from publishing houses, cultural bodies, and institutions, presenting publications and titles to more than a million visitors. Last year’s 10-day event was a great success. Still, this year’s event was beyond all expectations, breaking the previous year’s attendance records, boasting over a million visitors flocking to the venue. The CEO of the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission, Dr. Mohammed Hassan Alwan, was pleased to express his utmost satisfaction with the tremendous turnout, which included prominent writers, intellectuals, and orators from various vocations. The event was a sight to behold, with a lively atmosphere, thought-provoking discussions, and engaging presentations that left the attendees thoroughly impressed and entertained. Over 1,800 publishing houses from 32 countries set up 800 pavilions, showcasing a rich tapestry of literary works. The fair, spanning an area of over 55,000 square meters, featured cultural bodies, institutions, and global publication houses displaying rare books, manuscripts, and paintings.
The Riyadh International Book Fair nurtures Saudi talents, promotes cultural exchange, and encourages intellectual debate. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is a bold and transformative initiative to diversify the economy and promote cultural exchange. The Riyadh International Book Fair serves as a vital platform for advancing these goals, fostering a vibrant literary community, and positioning the country as a hub for intellectual engagement. The event showcases the transformative power of literature and reflects the growing appreciation for its value in the region. Overall, the fair represents a significant step in realizing the vision of a prosperous and even more culturally rich Saudi Arabia. With its continued success, it is set to play an even more significant role in shaping the cultural landscape of Saudi Arabia for years to come.
Prof. Alaa Alghamdi
Saudi Scholar & Writer