The Riyadh International Book Fair 2022, the largest-ever cultural event in Saudi Arabia, comes to a close on Saturday evening. The ten-day festival of books and culture, with the participation of 1200 publishing houses from 32 countries, witnessed the flocking of an unprecedented number of male and female visitors and book fans, and thus further consolidating the position of Saudi Arabia as a major cultural destination in the Gulf region.

Several international publishing houses, including those from the United Kingdom and China, participated in the book fair for the first time. Britannia Books is one among them. A wide variety of cultural events was the major feature of the festival with the theme of “Cultural Chapters.”

There has been 50 percent increase in the space of the book fair at the Riyadh Front due to the huge increase in the number of publishing houses that turned up to showcase their titles at the fair. Tunisia was the guest of honor at the festival of readers and fans of books, organized by the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission, under the Ministry of Culture.

There was a tremendous response from Saudi women who turned out in large numbers to visit the pavilions as well as to take part in the cultural and artistic events, apart from being actively involved in the organization of the event. The weekend days of Friday and Saturday witnessed a large influx of visitors and book fans, including Saudi citizens and expatriates, to the book fair until the last hours of the festival.

The cultural activities included as many as 71 seminars, 22 workshops, seven poetry evenings, six theater performances, nine concerts, and 55 children’s activities. The exhibition also discussed the “Report of the Cultural Situation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the year 2021.”

The Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission, in cooperation with the Saudi Publishing Association, organized the “Publishers Conference” in the presence of a large group of book industry specialists representing local, Arab, and foreign publishing houses.

For the first time in the Arab world, the renowned Belarusian writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature Svetlana Alexievich participated in the book fair. She addressed a cultural dialogue with Khaled Al-Yahya.

Celebration of Tunisian culture

The book fair celebrated Tunisian culture, literature, art, and heritage with the participation of a group of Tunisian thinkers, intellectuals, and artists who lit the lamps of culture and art during the nights of the book fair. About 17 Tunisian publishers participated in the exhibition, showcasing thousands of titles.

The event dedicated a wide space for the pioneers of Tunisian culture, thought, and art to participate in a series of seminars, lectures, and workshops dealing with all areas of the north African nation’s cultural creativity. A series of seminars, poetry and literary evenings, and artistic performances were staged on the theaters and platforms of the book fair, which bore the names of Carthage, Kairouan, and Green Tunisia. These shed light on the contributions of Tunisian intellectuals and artists in enriching the Arab library, theater, and the rest of the arts sectors.

A number of seminars focusing on Tunisian culture were also held. These included the Tunisian architecture session that shed light on the legacy of 10 centuries of civilizations that followed Tunisia, and left an important architectural and cultural legacy, giving it a global heritage value.

In addition to a number of meetings on the Tunisian novel, issues facing the translation sector, the experience of Tunisian theater, criticism and other topics, workshops, and literary and poetic evenings presented by a group of prominent figures in the fields of culture, literature, and thought. Prominent Tunisian poets Muhammad Al-Ghazi and Moez Majed participated in the poetry evenings.

Renowned Tunisian singer Ziad Gharsa attended three musical nights at the Green Tunis Theatre. The Princess Noura University hosted the Tunisian Nights concert, where artists Saber Al-Rubai, Latifa, and Olfa Ben Ramadan enthralled the audience. Princess Nourah University’s theater group also performed four concerts.

Six publishing houses bag Excellence Awards worth SR300,000

The Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission announced on Saturday the Excellence Awards of the Riyadh International Book Fair 2022, with a total value of SR300,000 for the local, Arab and international publishing houses that participated in the book fair.

Addressing the award distribution ceremony, Dr. Mohammed Hassan Alwan, CEO of the commission, said that the commission believes that a developed publishing industry means a vibrant Arab culture, positive partnerships, and fruitful cooperation between all actors in the Arab cultural scene.

Tashkeel Publishing House has won the Excellence Award for Publishing while Jarir Bookstore bagged the Excellence Award for Publishing in the translation category. Asala Publishers of Lebanon secured the Excellence Award for Children’s Publishing whereas Madarik Publishing has won the Excellence Award for Digital Publishing. The Inspirational Book Publishers secured the Excellence Award for Content Publishing while Jadal Bookshop won the Readers’ Choice Award. Each of these six awards carries prize money worth SR50,000.

The Riyadh Book Fair 2022, which kicked off on Sept. 29, was one of the most important Arab book fairs in terms of the number of visitors, the volume of sales, and the diversity of its cultural programs, as well as in terms of the participation of the most prominent Arab, regional and international publishing houses.