“It is a very exciting time for the kingdom and the literary and publishing sector. The theme for this year’s event, “New Destination, New Chapter”, reflects Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to elevate the kingdom’s status as a literary and cultural hub both in the region and internationally.
The Riyadh International Book Fair, one of the larger book fairs around the world, attracting one million visitors in its last pre-pandemic incarnation, rarely gets noticed by the English-language industry media.
But the presence in the royal kingdom of Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association, caught the attention of Porter Anderson at Publishing Perspectives this week with a headline referencing the “Arab Cultural Renaissance”.
As Anderson notes, Al Qasimi is,
proving one of the best-traveled and most dedicated sitting leaders of the organisation in its 125-year history.
Indeed it’s with much regret that local circumstances here in West Africa TNPS has not been able to track online and report better on Al Qasimi’s travels this year.
Three years ago this month TNPS noted its excitement at the prospect of Bodour Al Qasimi lining up for the IPA presidency –
and we can go back to earlier in 2018 to find TNPS championing Al Qasimi as one of the IPA’s most ardent promoters of the emerging publishing markets.
Per Porter Anderson, Al Qasimin has already this year been to Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Georgia, and now Saudi Arabia in her official capacity as IPA President.
Anderson says that Qasimi’s keynote speech at the Riyadh IBF is,
a logical place for her to have opened a concept—with luck, a new framework—for “a new renaissance in Arab culture.”
Of course regulars readers will know that the Arab cultural Renaissance has been a topic here at TNPS since we launched. A couple of example headlines to make the point:
Against this background comes news that Cambridge University Press and Assessment – the rebranded name for the world’s oldest university press – is upping its game in Saudi Arabia with a renewed focus on English-language courses for Saudi students.
Joshua O’Neil, area coordinator of CUP Middle East, explained:
It’s a really exciting opportunity for Cambridge in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is a very important market for Cambridge.
“Power Up”, the new CUP course designed specifically for the Saudi market, is in its first year, and is being well received by students and government alike as Saudi Arabia moves forward with its Vision 2030 ambitions to transform the royal kingdom from an oil-based sheikdom to a globally-engaged world market.
Saudi Arabia of course comes with its fair share of negative perspectives in the outside world, so for new readers here at TNPS just a reminder that the TNPS policy is to as best possible record the developments in the international book markets regardless of political controversies that inevitably overshadow various countries at various times.
But let’s wind up this essay on Saudi’s publishing developments with the headline quote “a very exciting time”, attributable to Mohammed Hasan Alwan, chief executive at Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission at the Saudi Ministry of Culture, speaking to the regional press at the Riyadh International Book Fair.
It is a very exciting time for the kingdom and the literary and publishing sector.
At this year’s fair we want to encourage reading, highlight the importance of books and publishing, and showcase the investment opportunities across the sector in the kingdom. We’re also looking forward to the cultural exchange opportunities and raising awareness of the kingdom’s rich literary heritage through the fair’s programming.
The theme for this year’s event, New Destination, New Chapter, reflects Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to elevate the kingdom’s status as a literary and cultural hub both in the region and internationally.
The 2021 fair has been attracting visitors “in large numbers”, but while the final count isn’t yet known we can be sure it came nowhere near the pre-pandemic one million visitors Riyadh saw in 2019.
On a separate note, the Saudi Gazette runs with the headline.
Audiobooks steal the show at the Riyadh Book Fair,
but there’s little of substance in the report to add to what we already know – that audiobooks are increasing in popularity.
Get the latest from the Riyadh IBF on twitter: @MOCSaudi_En