The 31st edition of the Doha International Book Fair will remain engraved in the minds and remembered as a distinguished historical event, given the huge turnout of participants and attendees, as well as its coincidence with the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first edition of the book fair, and its far-reaching effect on the reading scene.
Mr. Al-Buainain, Director of the Libraries Department at the Ministry of Culture and Director of the Doha International Book Fair, described the outcome of this edition as a distinguished one in various respects, whether in terms of the number of publishers or events, thus making it the largest edition in the history of the Doha International Book Fair, which is the oldest Gulf fair. Al-Buainain announced that the number of publications exhibited at this edition amounted to about 150,000, which reflects the great confidence placed by publishers in the exhibition, pointing out that this edition was the most distinguished par excellence, including its provision of the new service “Reading Guide,” as the first service to be offered at book fairs with nearly 280 beneficiaries being served.
What is your assessment of the recent edition of the Doha International Book Fair?
First of all, I would like to express gratitude to His Excellency Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al-Thani, Minister of Culture, for his great support for the organization of this distinguished edition by all standards, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first exhibition held in 1972. In comparing between the first and the last edition, the exhibition seems to have gained great confidence among Arab and foreign publishers. The first one saw the participation of twenty publishers, while the last one saw the participation of 430 publishers representing thirty-seven countries, thus making the last one the biggest in the history of the fair, which reflects the history and deep-rootedness of this exhibition in the Gulf. The large turnout of readers, who hail from different walks of life and age groups, including children who were allowed to visit during the period January 18-22, confirms that the fair was keen to attract everybody to the world of reading, insist on it and on acquiring books, which in turn reflects the awareness of community members towards reading.
What are the most prominent goals that the recent edition of the fair has achieved?
Among the most prominent goals achieved by the fair is the localization of the book in the State of Qatar. Our beloved country has a great reservoir and deep-rooted history in knowledge and book acquisition, insistence on acquiring books and encouragement of their publication, which makes our society one of readers, which will inevitably reflect on the path of Qatari renaissance and development in various fields. Culture, of course, has a share in this development, in light of the cultural renaissance promoted by the State of Qatar and the rise of a young and promising creative generation of writers.
Are there any statistics on the different number of publications exhibited at the recent fair?
The distinctive features of this edition are not limited to the participation of local, Arab and international publishers only, or the participating countries as such in comparison with the previous editions, for this is by far the largest, but they also reside in the highest recorded number of books. In the 31st edition, the fair saw the exhibition of nearly 150,000 books representing different fields of culture, thought, creativity, and sciences, among others, which means that the recent edition is distinguished in various respects, as it enhances the importance of the fair, and earns it greater confidence among Arab and international book fairs, which also reflects the great position of the Qatari culture at the regional, Arab and international levels.
Commitment to Standards
Did this edition witness the censure of any of the participating publications?
All publishing houses adhered to the controls and standards set by the fair, which reflects the mutual trust between the Doha International Book Fair and the publishers, for everyone’s goal was to aspire to meet the taste of the book recipient, enrich his thought, culture, and creativity.
Diversity of events
What is your view of the turnout at the cultural activities accompanying the exhibition?
The exhibition aims at highlighting the book industry and its components, such as writing, publishing, printing, and distributing, which is why the exhibition succeeded in underscoring the movement of publication and writing. The accompanying cultural events provided support for this movement, and were extended to discussions of various areas, bringing together symbols and elites of Qatari and Arabic culture and the rising generation of creative youth, in order to mix experience with hope and creativity. Here, I would like to point out the “Reading Guide” service, in its first edition, which received the support and guidance of His Excellency the Minister of Culture, and which served nearly 280 beneficiaries. This service was provided by 32 guides who took morning and evening shifts throughout the duration of the fair. This service was offered for the first time at the levels of book fairs and it targeted first-time readers who were guided through a counseling session in the company of a reading guide. There was also a remarkable turnout and interaction at the training workshops. Moreover, the exhibition witnessed the organization of book launches for a large number of Qatari and resident creative writers, which reflected some form of cultural and creative boom, highlighting the presence of promising names of young people in the world of writing and creativity, who will certainly mark their strong presence in the world of Qatari and Arab creativity. All of these events were keen on diversity, addressing different age groups, and they were very well received, as was the case with the acquisition of books, which in turn reflects the consciousness of society.