Culture Fair for Children in Riyadh King Fahad Cultural Center

An interesting event worth checking out in Riyadh is the International Children Culture Fair organised at the King Fahad Cultural Centre. Aimed at parents and children in Riyadh, this exhibition was organised for the first time in 2011 at the beautiful King Fahad Cultural Centre. This building is a masterpiece of design combining the traditional Najd architecture with modern clean lines with a stunning location on the edge of Wadi Hanifa. The Cultural centre offers regular exhibitions and events year round (to keep up to date with Riyadh events follow Blue Abaya on Facebook and Twitter)  they have a full size theatre, a children’s library, real movie theatre and even a planetarium inside.
Location coordinates of the King Fahd Cultural Center: 24o 38.47’ N; 46o 39.23’ E
I went to the fair with a friend (and mother of eight!)Aisha Al-Hajjar, who does freelance writing for Arab News. Aisha is a childbirth educator and she writes columns for Saudi Life and has her own blog Saudi Birth Story. I was accompanying her to photograph the event for the Arab News coverage.

The main focus of the fair was on books and reading. I’ve noticed that reading to children is not as common in Saudi-Arabia than it is in Finland, but it seems to be growing in popularity. Reading to your kids is always highly beneficial for their language skills and strengthens the bond between the child and parent.

Coming from a culture in which the importance and role of reading to children is extremely important, the fair was a very positive surprise for me. There were so many children’s books available, ranging from toddlers touch and learn type books to older kids’ bedtime stories. The fair had many books in English as well and some English learning centers were represented along with a few embassies such as Sweden and Japan.

My husband bought some books for our 6 month old baby, she is already such a little bookworm! These were her first Arabic language books. I started reading to her when she was a few weeks old in Finnish and now whenever she sees a book she tries to grab it so it is definitely paying off already.

A nice bedtime story will always help the child relax and wind down before falling asleep. The children might even begin looking forward to bedtime! I hope many parents get the inspiration and encouragement of reading to their kids from this fair.

In addition to the book stalls, the Cultural fair had other activities such as a small museum, plays for children in the big theatre, traditional dance shows and an interactive learning center.

The King Fahad cultural center has very modern architecture and pleasant surroundings with fountains and gardens.

Children being interviewed for television.

I was surprised how all the classic fairy tales that we know from childhood could be found at the fair and had passed the Saudi censors. There was some excellent books on Islam in English language for children available too.

Fun interactive books for toddlers

There were lot of booths to browse various kinds of children’s books. Most were in Arabic language but they did have English books too.

This book was about the history of Saudi-Arabia
These young Saudi men were dressed in traditional outfits and were performing traditional dancing at the fair.
Saudi hand puppets!
A happy kid enjoys the fair with his father
Face paintings were a hit!
You can have your name written in Japanese at the Japanese embassy booth!
Pretty Saudi girls dressed in traditional dresses with flower bands on their hair.
A girl being interviewed by media.

More hand puppets.

More toddler books! Was hard to choose which ones to get for my daughter.
Monkey manners is a marvelous way to teach kids basic manners ;)

Fountains outside the center.

Such a pretty girl and pretty dress!

A marvelous book for expecting mothers with children and curious questions to answer how the baby got there!
The architecture inside the King Fahad cultural center is impressive!

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  • AnonymousOctober 12, 2011 - 3:33 am

    salam aleykum
    Masha’Allah.. great post thanx for sharing. I wish I could have been there.
    wasalamReplyCancel

  • HeliOctober 12, 2011 - 7:59 am

    Looking at all the little girls in their pretty dresses, I wonder, at what age do they start using abaya?ReplyCancel

  • LaylahOctober 12, 2011 - 8:34 am

    usually when they get into puberty..but some families have them in abayas much earlier.ReplyCancel

  • NoorOctober 12, 2011 - 1:41 pm

    Wow mashAllah this looks so nice I would have loved to go. Is it over?ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 13, 2011 - 9:21 am

    I wish I went with you yesterday :( I don’t think my husband is up to going at all :( I am glad it went well.. yala.. enshallah we make a plan for next years one ;)(I think 2day is the last day.. right? or is it 2morrow?

    Om LujainReplyCancel

  • DentographerOctober 13, 2011 - 2:27 pm

    this is one of the things that keeps me awake at night,given that i am actively engaging my self into reading and not yet made it a habit,it does take me an effort to keep it a daily activity,i used to read when i was younger,comics,and pocket books and everything but it was somthing that i liked to do at a younger age and it was not somthing my parents instilled in me.

    now being parent,its becoming a stressful burden on me and i always wonder are we raising our kids to be little readers or not,not to mention being in this age where there is ALOT of my daily read is done on a computer,and kids have yet to understand that not every sitting infront of a computer is entertainment OR educational, teaching the habit of reading physical books is becoming a challenge.

    Mommy is a very busy bee with her finishing her masters,so she is doing all her readings anyways because she have to,i am doing all my readings for leisure.but i do admit that i am falling behind every dead line i am putting,yet i am still pushing my self everyday…

    lets hope for the best.ReplyCancel

  • StephiOctober 14, 2011 - 2:48 am

    it was nice to see that the princesses on the book covers were not scratched out : )ReplyCancel

  • LaylahOctober 15, 2011 - 4:56 pm

    Noor-did you go?

    Om Lujain-I would’ve loved to go again with you because most of the time I was there I was just concentrating on taking photos so I couldn’t really enjoy all the fair had to offer.

    Dentographer-oh yes keeping reading a daily habit for oneself can be challenging!I hope to be able to read to my daughter every night when she’s older.
    Reading physical books is becoming more and more rare because of all the ebooks on offer nowadays. But then again you cant take your computer to all the places you can go with a book :)

    Stephi-Yes it was, and I even found disney piglet!ReplyCancel

  • FeliciaOctober 15, 2011 - 5:06 pm

    It looks like it was a lot of fun!

    It’s very important to read to your kids, and like you mentioned a great time to squeeze it in is bedtime. Not too many people do it these days, unfortunately.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 16, 2011 - 2:21 am

    Fabulous Layla. From JulieReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 16, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    Mashallah you take such beautiful pictures! What a lovely culture you have, I love hearing about your finnish stuff! Reading to your children is an absolute must! Out with the TV!

    UmMuhammadReplyCancel

  • NicoleOctober 18, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    Oh oh oh, my sister-in-law was working at a booth there and was telling me all about it! I was so wishing I could be there; I am salivating at all of those books, and I don’t even have any kids! I’m a book fair nerd from way back, lol, and if KSA has book fairs, I’ll be fine. ;-) And a Children’s International Culture Fair? I’ll be in heaven! :-)ReplyCancel

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