It’s time for Riyadh’s annual International Book Fair! Riyadh international book fair will be inaugurated on 9th March 2016. Read on to find out more about the venue, location info, timings and what this exhibition is all about!
The 10-day long Riyadh Book Fair, will offer books of different genres for readers of all age groups. Besides offering books on discounted rates for children and adults, the fair will encompass a range of events such as counselling sessions and discussions on books,
GPS coordinates of RICEC: 24.7510400, 46.7255270
Dates: March 9th-19th 2016
With over 600,000 books by over 900 publishing houses, represented by 400 exhibitors; the Riyadh International Book Fair is one of the largest cultural festivals in Saudi Arabia. More than two million visitors come each year to find and buy new interesting books and to participate in the cultural program accompanying the exhibition.
The International Book Fair is much more than just stall after stall of books, there are activities and presentations for both adults and children. Although the majority of books are in Arabic language, there’s an English language section and many of the children’s books are in English.
They also have educational toys and games for sale. The Saudi ministries also have booths at the Fair and one of the many interesting places to stop by at is the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) booth.
Each year, the Riyadh Book Fair sparks controversy among the more conservative Saudis. In the past, groups of religious clerics have protested against allowing women to attend the book fair or to make public speeches. They’re also known for being on the look-out for and wanting to confiscate books which clash with their religious views.
Thankfully in the recent years, women have been allowed to freely participate in the book fair. Nowadays there’s a closed off ‘family section’ where some women are selling books they authored at their own stalls.
The Saudi religious police, the ‘Hai’a’ patrols the fair, on the look-out for banned books. The Haia officers work under the Commission for Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue (CPVPV) and they even have their own stand at the Fair which could be interesting to stop by at. On display, among other things, are items confiscated by the Commission Members. You can find out more about what the Hai’a officers duties are at their stall.
Riyadh’s Book Fair is definitely worth the visit! The best time to go is on weekday mornings when the place is not yet crowded and this is when schools will be visiting so there’s plenty of kids activities.. The Exhibition Center starts getting very crowded in the evenings and the parking lot can be very hard to access because of the traffic, especially around closing time. There are ‘white’ taxis waiting outside the Exhibition Center.
If you take your children, a stroller will come in handy because the exhibition area is huge with many large halls to explore. Take cash with you as payment, there’s an ATM inside the Exhibition Hall, but it can have very long waiting lines. A restaurant and cafeteria are located near the entrance, but both often have long lines during peak hours. There’s an info booth near the entrance where you can ask for a map of the area to have a better understanding of all the things on offer.