Visit to International Book Fair: #Riyadh

Tired of working all week long??? Look for few activities and events in your area and visit, I can bet you will be relaxed and forget about tiredness. When Thursday approaches, I am happy from the morning that in evening I am a person with free will. I always look for something nice to do on my weekend to have a great start on Sunday. As annual “International Book Fair” was inaugurated in Riyadh few days before. So my destination yesterday was Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center where this fair was held. I was amazed to see the turn out, it was really big. 

I asked few of my friends to guide me about location and event as I never visited Riyadh’s International Annual Book Fair before. All told me it’s definitely worth visiting. I checked the website for details of grand hall with millions of books, click here for website. 

I was truly moved after visiting website and watching pictures. I called one of my friend and told her about the event and asked if she was interested to join. She said Yes! I went to her in half hour and then we hired a taxi and went to the Book Fair. As expected, there was a lot of rush and jam on road. Even taxi driver was asking for high fare because of rush. I realized it is not a good idea to visit during peak hours, better during morning. Today, 14th March is last day for Book Fair, but if you visited during next years, as it is an annual event that is organized in Riyadh, then go around opening time in morning.

After entering the gates for free(no entry fee), kids were greeted by many clowns and our

kids shake hands with every clown standing along the path and asked us to take their pictures. There were few camera-men too, taking pictures of the kids with the clowns. There is large area for eating and you can see people enjoying food as well.

This grand exhibition is all about Books, Books and lot of Books I guess millions, as name indicates, Book Fair. This is one of largest fair of #KSA with hundred of stalls displaying millions of books and millions visiting to buy the books. After entering the hall, you will feel lost and will think from where to start, as everywhere there are booths selling books on both sides of walkway and stalls crowded with the people. There were few booths with very nice decorations. Books were organized very nicely. 

There you can find diversity of topics and books. You can find books related to almost every field I saw books related to architecture, graphic design, literature, art, travel, science, religion mean for every aspect of life and the world. There were many books related to computers in Arabic. I also saw digital dictionaries, digital Holy Quran, CDs, Cassettes and videos. Digital books for kids too. I was amazed to see a board, there were selected books accompanying it. Place the book on the board and then press the word on the book, the board was pronouncing the word.  You can find large collection of Islamic books for grown ups as well for kids. There were people who had great knowledge of Islam and explained things to visitors related to Islam. I was happy to see Islamic books for kids in English. There was as stall from UK where our kids were happy to find variety of kids books in English. We got few bedtime stories. We saw few other English countries participating in Exhibition as well, mostly there were stalls of Arab countries. Unfortunately I could not understand Arabic language  but some covers of books were really catching attention.
There were books for all age groups. People of all ages were busying buying books. It was crowded place with large number of females too. Good thing is, majority of books were on discounted rates and it was also related to bargaining as well. My friend and I took few books for kids and exhibitor gave us further discount then mentioned. For sure we were happy with that.
I saw few “writers”, who were signing their books for the customers. There was long line of people males and females, waiting for their turns to get autograph on the book by author. There were discussion sessions on books with some nice presentations as well. 
There were many halls in exhibition. Mostly with books but one was with kid’s toys and games. In “Kids Hall” you can find toys and books for kids. There were amazing toys to teach kids with the play on discounted rates. All the kids were super excited in this section as there were many toys for try, kids were busy making sand castles, building blocks and doing stuff. 
I was surprised to see the booth of Saudi Post”. I saw people sending letters, cards and books to friends or family. You can see large number of police to help, guide and for security purposes.
In “Family Section”I saw females selling books too. I met an amazing old women who was selling books for kids and the way she was explaining about the need to buy her books was amazing. She was telling how to teach kids with her books, many females were around her stall, to see or talk to her. Many bought her books, her stall was empty soon. I now believe that preparation/presentation, matters the most. There I too, met some female authors of  the books.
Soon I ran out of cash as started looking for “ATM”. There is an ATM inside the center with a long waiting line and I finally explored a mobile ATM too, waiting outside the Center in a big van. My friends started laughing, she said, “We see Ice cream and pop corn or sims mobile vans and services. First time I am watching mobile ATM machine”. She added, “ They are telling people, do not have excuses get the cash and buy some books.”
You will hardly find any family or individual leaving from Exhibition Center without books. People were dragging big “bags” full of books. If you forget to bring your bag, do not worry there were few stalls outside the exhibiting halls, where you can find bags.

When we left whole place was very crowded around 8:00 p.m. There was large number of taxis outside but with long line of people waiting for them too. When we came out it took us more than 20 minutes to get a chance to sit in a taxi. Whole exhibition center was packed with vehicles.  

The Book Fair, seems a Big Success as almost every other person is talking about it. Such events brings a lot of opportunities for public and publishers with them. I hope that number of publishers participating in event with books in English will increase in coming year.
As a teacher I would like to suggest to students that they should attend such events and get the books related to their interest and subjects. The thing we lack now, is reading of the books. We must not forget that; “Book is always a best friend”. Anything that you need to know is in books. If we can develop the habit of reading in our kids from start it can be a great gift to them. Student also get the chance to find some books that are normally not available in local market at such platforms. At university level some books like Physics, Maths, Chemistry etc. are taught in English, so the translations in ones language can be found, it can help students, understand the concept in a better way. I was happy to see some very nice books of science subjects in Arabic. Overall such events are very beneficial for all. 

I will recommend to visit when you are free with few hours in hand, as it is big event. I could not even have a look on all halls as each hall was huge with many stalls to visit. Thankfully I went there, had some amazing time and our kids were very happy to see a large collection of kids books. They have never seen such big festival related to books before. Riyadh Book Fair was such a fun day as I went with my friend and we all really enjoyed and bought few books too.  I think such fairs are perfect place for visiting. 

  • Sounds like fun! I have been to book fairs at my child's schools but never this big. Sounds like you had a good time.

  • Awesome! Never been to a Book Fair but I really enjoyed reading your post.
    Glad you had a wonderful time

  • Sounds like a fun event although to be honest I am not drawn to crowds of people much these days. But how fantastic to have such a huge choice all in one place:-0

  • As much as I love books, I've gravitated toward e-books so much that I don't browse actual books as much as I would like too. I did trade quite a few books in at a huge used bookstore today though and am planning on going back soon to browse.

  • How wonderful! Any time there is a huge collection of books, I am happy to know there are a huge number of people buying them! Very interesting to learn about this book fair and that you are a teacher.

  • What a great post. Being an author I like reading about book fairs, and this one seems very unique. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Catarina

    Glad you enjoyed your visit to the Riyadh International Book Fair. Personally read at least one book a week and have to say that when I lived in Riyadh I read less. Getting interesting books there apart from bestsellers, such as Grisham and Baldacci, are really difficult because of censorship. For that reason I never visited the book fair but instead opted for buying books when I was in Beirut and Dubai.

  • Sounds like fun. I've been to Book Festivals where authors speak but never to a Book Fair for the sole purpose of buying books. Makes me truly appreciate having local bookstores and a public library.

  • What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. I love getting lost in a pile of books. In Los Angeles, they've closed almost every book store, which I think is a revealing commentary of our societies interests. I remember walking o a street in Italy, and there were four bookstores on one street. My father turned to me and said, "That's one of the major differences between the US and Europe". He was right.

  • Oh I love books and one of my favorite book fairs is held in Washington DC. Where I live in Maui it's a bit too small and rural for such events, but when I'm traveling I look for opportunities to visit unusual book stores and fairs. Wonderful photos Andleeb and it sounds like you had a terrific time!

  • Sounds like a great event. From your description I think I could spend an entire day there, and maybe that wouldn't be enough. Of course I might need a truck instead of a taxi to take me home with all the books.

  • Hello Andleeb! after reading your post i really feel that i was there, beautifully described. its really a very positive activity.

  • Hello Andleeb! after reading your post i really feel that i was there, beautifully described. its really a very positive activity.

  • This book fair sounds right up my street!

    Sounds as though you had a fantastic time. I would make it a day out for the family as you did.

  • Hello Andeleeb,

    What a great way to spend some quality time!

    Books, at any given day, are perhaps one of the best companions one can have. The event looks fabulous..

  • What a coincidence to read your post about the Riyadh Book Fair tonight after I have just spent 2 days at a similar event, the Tucson Festival of Books in Tucson, Arizona. It too is free with lots of booths, books and activities for children. I had opportunity to sit in on interesting author panel discussions and attend writing workshops. It was really great to see so many people, of all ages, interested in books. It sounds as if you had a similar experience at what sounds like a great book fair. Indeed, books are best friends.

  • My gosh, my husband would be so excited to a place that advertises itself as having millions of books. He is completely a book addict. I will admit that this may be a little far for him to go, but he would be in heaven if he were there. I loved the photos! It seems like you had a lot of fun.

  • I would love this event. My Mom was the head librarian of a small college, so as you can imagine, I gain a great respect for all things in print. The fact that I love to read is due to her. It would be fun to go and soak it all in. ?

  • An introvert's heaven: books! This sounds awesome Andleeb. It speaks well to the over all economy of things as well as the interest in learning and reading. Thanks also for sharing some photos with this post which for me bring your visit to the International Book Fair in Riyadh to life!

  • There is nothing that I love more than a book fair, book festival, book readings…anything to do with books! I am so glad that you really enjoyed your time there! It sounds like you took full advantage of the event!

  • Hi Andleeb, this Book Fair sounds like my kind of place. I would be happy to spend a day browsing through books and it seems to me that people who participate in book fairs seem to be friendlier and outgoing. Thanks for describing this one Not surprised to hear that you had fun.