Saudi Arabia: Perseverance Pays Off – 2013 Riyadh Book Fair




The Annual International Riyadh Book fair for 2013 is in process.  The Ministry of Culture and Information has made an effort to launch a web site specifically for and about the book fair.  Although the English version is sadly lacking in substance and information, it is a start towards progression.  However, the Arabic language version of site is much more detailed.

The show commenced on 05 March with its opening ceremony and continues through 23 April, according to the official web site.  Although according to an article in the Saudi Gazette, the book fair ends on 15 March.

Previous years one could expect the Riyadh book fair to be segregated and proliferated with the religious police.  The book fair would be surrounded by some controversy due to disagreements on some of the books presented.

However, 2013 can be seen as a year of forward progress for the book fair.  For example, this year:

  • Men and women were openly mixing in a public!  Of course not interacting, but sharing the same space.
  • At prayer time they didn’t close anything – people kept right on buying and selling while the prayers were broadcast.
  • It was very festive with the bright lights for the tv cameras and interviewing authors in the middle of the place.
  • No one yelling or trying to enforce women to cover up.  However, a female friend of mine who was present advised that 99.99% of women wore niqab, including her.  She was not comfortable being up close and personal with so many people and feeling  exposed.  She could blend in more and not have people looking at her by her decision to wear a niqab.

The 2013 Riyadh book fair will have over 250,000 paperback titles and offer more than one million e-books.  The book fair is one of the biggest cultural events in the Kingdom second perhaps to the annual Janadriyal festival.  Organizers anticipate more than two million visitors while the fair is in progress from both the Saudi and expatriate communities.


8 Responses

  1. Great that the book fair is going strong!

    How terribly sad though that women are so downtrodden and isolated that they cannot feel comfortable in a crowd without increasing the cloth prison to it’s optimum.

  2. Thank you for posting this information. It is interesting to learn more about the literacy goals and projects of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

  3. Good news. Books never hurt anyone. There’s a lot of positive changes in ksa

  4. Excellent that the place is for everyone there!

  5. Looks like good progress was made this year. The religious police (CPVPV) were instructed not to confiscate any books, but rather take notes of any items they did not agree with and report back to the ministry of information.

    However, there were some incidents of vigilante type of harassment by religious groups. This was not supported by the government and they even arrested some of the harassers.

    I still think the CPVPV should have no presence in such fair, but limiting their authority seems to be a good step forward.

  6. Rhada…I beg to differ. I threw a book at my ex one time and he got a fat lip. Lol

  7. coolred, I should have said books are most useful to have 🙂 your aim must be deadly . like my daughters .

  8. Coolred, excellent imaginative alternative use of a book. 😈

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