Actor Ghanim Al-Sulayti described the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to organize the 31st Doha International Book Fair as “quite impressive.” He commented that the book fair is a major cultural resource that every one looks forward to each year. Although the book fair was cancelled last year because of the pandemic, it is back with unprecedented levels of national and international participation.
Al-Sulayti noted that Qatar has a rich tradition of organizing book fairs, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Doha International Book Fair, half a century of enriching Arab and Gulf culture. He also noted that Qatar was the first Gulf country to have a national library with a collection of hundreds of thousands of books, manuscripts, periodicals, newspapers, magazines, and other resources. He hopes the national library will be restored to regain its historical role in serving culture in Qatar.
Al-Sulayti described Qatar relation with books as a long love story that can be seen in the individual Qatari leaders’ love for books and the numerous Qatari intellectuals who have left their marks on so many fields.
Concerning attendance at the book fair, Al-Sulayti commented, “The pandemic has impacted the book fair in significant ways. For example, the Ministry of Culture limited attendance to 30% of venue capacity and required registration prior to arrival. These measures reduced the potential numbers of visitors, especially that the idea of electronic registration is new to our community. However, we appreciate the Ministry’s efforts to implement safety procedures to protect visitors.”
Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the 31st Doha International Book Fair has significant levels of participation from various government agencies. Many such agencies are organizing reading workshops and different kinds of cultural activities and events. Cultural organizations in particular are sparing no effort to enrich the intellectual and cultural content of the book fair, which is open to all age groups.