Riyadh International Book Fair

Riyadh’s annual International Book Fair 2018 is coming soon this March! Riyadh international book fair will be inaugurated on 14th March 2018 and continues daily until 24th March. Read on to find out more about the venue, location info, timings and what this exhibition is all about!

The 10-day long Riyadh International 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 counseling sessions and discussions on books,

The 2018 Book Fair is being held at Riyadh’s International Convention and Exhibition Center (RICEC). For the Google maps location click here. Website (arabic) here.

GPS coordinates of RICEC: 24.7510400, 46.7255270

Dates: March 14th- 24th

Timing: 10 am- 10 pm

Fridays 3pm- 10 pm

Guest Country: UAE  

Over 600,000 books and hundred of 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.

 haia religious police at saudi book fair

Saudi religious police officers at Riyadh Book Fair

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.

The Riyadh Book Fair used to spark controversy among the more conservative Saudis and in the past years extremists would come to the book fair and destroy books. 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 participate in the book fair and less extremists are entering the exhibition. First they introduced a separate ‘family section’ where some female authors were allowed to sell their books. In the past two years things have rapidly changed for the better and in 2018 the Riyadh International Book fair will most likely be a completely mixed gender area open to everyone.

The Saudi religious police, the ‘Hai’a’ used to roam 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 and Careem and UBER rides sometimes offer discounted rates to the exhibition.

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.

While most of the books are in Arabic language there are also a growing number of English books and especially worth a look for the children’s English language books.


Book Fair Riyadh

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Hello there, I’m Laura, the author of Blue Abaya, the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia established in 2010. I’ve been traveling around and exploring Saudi Arabia since 2008.
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  • J.MohsenMarch 19, 2014 - 11:14 am

    Wish I would have known about this, would have loved to go!ReplyCancel

  • Mohamed Al Saadoon (@burning_phoneix)April 3, 2014 - 2:00 am

    I was surprised Author Services Inc. managed to get a booth. For reference, Author Services is the publishing arm for L Ron Hubbard, the founder of scientology.ReplyCancel

  • KysyyApril 18, 2014 - 12:26 pm

    You wrote about culture shock in one article and how you finally saw that some things are actually in better way in SA compared to Finland. It would be very interesting to read such an article. What is better in/about Saudi society and customs compared to Finland and the other way around?

    Olisi todella kiva, jos kirjoittaisit tuota asiaa koskevan jutun :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaApril 22, 2014 - 5:22 pm

      Moikka! kiitos ehdotuksesta! Yes time willing, I would be glad to write such an article :)ReplyCancel

  • Window on GeorgeMay 17, 2014 - 11:03 am

    great blog!ReplyCancel

  • Dalene PotgieterMay 17, 2014 - 11:03 am

    great blog!ReplyCancel

  • […] What is the job description of a muttawa? Muttawas don’t actually have an official job description. There has recently been talk in the media about the importance of having one following some very unpleasant and even violent actions taken by religious policemen. On their official website it is stated their duty is to “preserve Muslim society by guidance and good example”. Muttawa seem to improvise as they go, acting as sort of  performance artists sometimes. Most common duty of a muttawa is telling (sometimes shouting) women to cover their heads or hair. If the women under scrutiny are Saudi they will be asked to cover their faces or eyes depending on how much the woman is already covered. If a muttawa squad encounters a woman and a man together under suspicious conditions, such as riding in the same car or shopping together, they will request to see a marriage license. If the couple does not have it, they will be taken to the station for questioning and interrogation. The police must be present in order for the Hai’a to actually arrest anyone. Their duties also include blacking out haram figures from women’s magazines (cleavage, legs, arms)blacking out women from inflatable swimming pool packages and basically wherever they find pictures of uncovered women. Hai’a might raid stores for haram goods such as music CDs, stuff that resembles crosses or other religious symbols, Barbies without abayas and forbidden books like Harry Potter and Winnie the Pooh which features a piglet! The Horror! The confiscated items are brought on display at the yearly Riyadh International Book Fair. […]ReplyCancel

  • 10 Things To Do In Riyadh During SpringDecember 3, 2014 - 12:52 am

    […] 1. Visit the International Riyadh Book Fair. The fair starts 6th March 2012 and runs through the 16th, open daily from 10 am to 10 pm at the Riyadh International Exhibition Center. There is an English books section, a female only area and an excellent children’s book and activity area. Guide to the Book Fair found here: Riyadh International Book Fair. […]ReplyCancel

  • Terri PlezMarch 12, 2015 - 5:29 am

    Do I need to bring cash or do most vendors take ATM/credit cards?ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMarch 16, 2015 - 4:48 pm

      Sorry Terri didn’t see your reply on time. They do have an ATM there, but there’s long lines! Better take cash.ReplyCancel

  • […] area and an excellent children’s book and activity area. Guide to the Book Fair found here: Riyadh International Book Fair. UPDATE Riyadh International Book Fair open in 2016 dates 9-19th […]ReplyCancel

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