JEDDAH: Book lovers in Jeddah are visiting the fifth Jeddah International Book Fair in large numbers.
The number of visitors to the event, which was launched last week under the patronage of Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, reached 156,143 as of Sunday, according to official statistics.
More than 400 publishing houses from 40 countries are taking part in the exhibition, being staged at a 30,000-square-meter site at Events Land in South Obhur, which overlooks Jeddah’s Corniche. The fair features 350,000 books catering for all reader tastes, and more than 200 authors are present to sign their books.
Wijdan Al-Shaikh, a 25-year-old visitor, said: “I am glad this time I was able to come to the book fair. It is a good chance to meet publishers and know all the updates about upcoming books.”
A pavilion has been specially allocated to Saudi authors, who have not been able to find a publishing house, to give them a platform from which to promote their books, as part of an initiative organized by the Ministry of Culture.
Many stalls have been set up for children’s books and games. Various companies are sponsoring fun-filled and educational activities at the exhibition. One of them is a reading campaign organized by Al-Wifaq, a car rental company. The campaign aims to inculcate reading habits in young children and encourage them to read, write, draw and color.
Abdullah Al-Arfaj, the public relations manager at Al-Wifaq, said they hope to promote a culture of reading. “We have recorded three children’s stories and we are glad to see children reacting to them, smiling and enjoying the activities.”
Al-Holm Publishing is one of the many the publishing houses from the Arab world taking part in the event. It has taken part in 10 countries across the region.
Islam Fathi, the general manager of Al-Holm, said their participation in book fairs reflect their belief in the importance of spreading awareness about reading through interacting with visitors and displaying new books.
Government departments have also put on displays of their publications including the Ministry of Education, which highlighted the projects of the education department in Jeddah.
The ministry also provided different seminars and performed plays. In addition, the department hosted the “Jeddah Reading Corner” which provides children with educational and reading materials and gives advice to families to best pick suitable books and materials suitable for their children.
Saudi Arabia is also expected to host the Riyadh Book Fair in April 2020.