Riyadh: Ali Bluwi
Published — Friday 8 March 2013
Last update 8 March 2013 4:29 am
The Riyadh book fair, which was officially launched on Tuesday, is attracting people of various cultural, political and religious backgrounds. In particular, there was a large presence of Saudi women in this year’s event.
Books related to culture, political thought and knowledge, as well as translated books, notably those criticizing religious extremism and Islamic politics, are captured the attention of visitors.
Certain publishing houses in the book fair experienced a remarkable turnout. One such publishing house is the Arabian Network for Research and Publishing (ANRP), which is owned by the Saudi Islamic thinker Nawwaf Al-Qudaimi. In this session, the ANRP is displaying a series of books, especially those discussing terrorism which was written by Khalid Al-Dakhil, a Saudi intellectual and social scientist.
The supervisor of the ANRP pavilion at the fair says many titles were poised to disappear within the coming two days due to the unprecedented turnout of visitors.
The Beirut-based Center for Arab Unity Studies (CAUS) stand also received special attention from visitors, especially books dealing with the Arab Spring and the political, social and economic changes taking place in the aftermath of the popular uprisings in the region.
Books published by the CAUS were well-received among readers, especially those interested in philosophy, culture, globalization and new media.
Religious books also evoked the interest of religious scholars and students from Saudi and GCC universities.
Meanwhile, Saudi women found books dealing with culture, philosophy, terrorism and extremism, administration, modern education, planning and the new Islamic movement, particularly the Salafi movement and the Muslim Brothers in the Gulf region, according to ANRP stand supervisors.
At the Center of Middle Eastern Studies’s bookstall (CMES), visitors delved into books that deliberated on the Palestine cause, the Hamas movement, political Islam, the GCC’s security and Islamic movements and democracy, observers said.
In the meantime, organizers of the fair expressed their content with the unprecedented turnout despite slight overcrowding, which they attributed to the inability of certain publishing houses to unload their books from containers and arrange them in their designated spaces. They predicted that more people would visit the fair in the coming days and said it was likely that they change the entry hours to the fair in sync with the schedule of schools and universities.
A number of Saudi and Arab intellectuals and writers shall sign their books during the book fair.
After launching the book fair on Tuesday, the Minister of Culture and Information issued a statement saying, “The Riyadh book fair serves as a great networking platform for publishers, writers and scholars, as well as academic institutions.”
More than 300,000 titles, including several best-selling books from 31 countries, are on display in the fair this year. The fair will last for one week and the exhibition will be opened to the public from Wednesday to Friday.