RIYADH: The Riyadh International Book Fair 2019, one of the region’s largest cultural events, opened at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center on Wednesday night.
Open to the public from Thursday, the 10-day event will run on the theme “The Book is the Gate of the Future.”
The deputy culture minister, Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez, gave the opening address, highlighting the importance of books for promoting Arab culture.
The ceremony was attended by Bahrain’s Minister of Culture Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, who praised the “deep-rooted ties established over the years” between the two kingdoms, and the importance of book fairs as platforms to showcase culture and talent.
Fayez and Khalifa presented prizes to a number of different authors and Saudi filmakers, as well as lead tributes to the life of the late Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, the Saudi politician, diplomat, poet and novelist who died in 2010.
A Bahraini pavilion will host 13 cultural events including poetry nights, seminars and children’s programs over the course of the fair. In total, more than 900 global publishing houses are set to participate, with 500,000 books and publications on display, and up to a million visitors expected to attend.
The fair will also host 200 cultural events sponsored by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in partnership with Saudi Aramco. They will include 62 seminars and cultural lectures, theater performances, interactive workshops and educational films.
Discounts on books of up to 70 percent are expected to tempt more bibliophiles to attend, as well as disability access and three signing stages, hosting 267 authors.
The fair has become a gathering point for readers, authors, and local and regional publishing houses. It provides a cultural bridge between the Arab and wider worlds, and a networking platform for publishers, writers, scholars and academic institutions. It will host a vast display of important works on Islam, history, medicine, law, science, technology and the media, as well as biographies, non-fiction and novels in Arabic, English, French, Turkish, Urdu and Spanish.