RIYADH: The Riyadh International Book Fair 2022 has expanded to welcome many more international publishing houses and distributors to exhibit their works for the first time in the city, including publishers from the UK and China.
One of the exhibitors at the book fair was China Intercontinental Press, a publishing house founded in 1993 by the Chinese government to promote the country’s culture and history abroad.
“This is our first time in Riyadh, and what was interesting is that we found many people here who could speak Chinese very well,” Guo Xi, exhibit marketing manager, told Arab News.
During the publishing house’s first few days at the book fair, many people would approach their exhibit speaking Chinese, and they were pleasantly surprised by how often it happened.
China Intercontinental Press displayed a variety of publications, including genres suitable for both adults and children.
“We have Chinese fiction books, as well as children’s books about Chinese culture and books on politics. They have all been translated into both Arabic and English,” Guo said.
What on Earth Publishing was another publishing house to feature at the book fair. The British company specializes in educational children’s books that present information creatively to help children better understand the material and develop a passion for books.
“This experience has been amazing. Honestly, I love the book fair, and I love the vibes here. Everyone is so helpful. I’m grateful for it,” Juman Salama, What on Earth assistant publishing director, told Arab News.
The publishing house was founded this year, with the initial release of books in May 2022.
“We specialize in non-fiction scientific books aimed at children that discuss the history of engineering and science. We also have books about the Earth and global warming, teaching children how they can take better care of the planet in the near future,” Salama said.
“We try to give this information to children in creative ways so they can actually read and enjoy the books rather than just receive facts or information in a boring way. We are creative about it,” she said.
Britannia Books is another British distribution house that can be found at this year’s book fair in Riyadh. Based in London, the idea behind Britannia Books was conceived one year ago and was brought to life in August.
“Britannia Books was established by three young men from Lebanon in the hopes of distributing English books from the UK to all the Arab world,” Hicham Karan, sales manager at Britannia Books, said.
“We wanted to bring English books for adults and children to our Arab world. We don’t have any specific genre; we are trying to fill all markets,” he said.
Karan has personally participated at the book fair in Riyadh with other publishing houses in the past, but this year marks the debut of his own distribution house.
“For me, the book fair in Riyadh was the pioneer and leader of all Arab book fairs. I have participated in six or seven countries’ book fairs around the world, and Riyadh’s was No. 1.”
Aside from book displays, the fair is also hosting cooking shows, cultural exhibitions and guest lectures throughout the 10-day event, featuring local and international pavilions.
In this year’s edition, Tunisia participated as the guest of honor, with 16 Tunisian publishing houses present. The Tunisian pavilion also highlighted the culture and history of the country through displays, workshops and cultural dialogues open to the public.
The Riyadh International Book Fair will continue until Oct. 8 at the Riyadh Front and is open from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.