Under the gracious patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the country, the Ministry of Culture and Sports will hold the thirtieth edition of the Doha International Book Fair, next Thursday which will last for ten days at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre.
The activities of the upcoming edition of the exhibition will start under the slogan “Do you not think”, under the supervision and organization of the Qatar Centre for Cultural and Heritage Events, affiliated to the Ministry of Culture and Sports and with the participation of 335 publishing houses representing 31 Arab and foreign countries, including countries participating for the first time such as Belgium and Australia.
The French Republic will be the guest of honour for the thirtieth edition of the Doha International Book Fair as the Qatar – France cultural year 2020 will be celebrated and its launch will be officially announced next Tuesday. France will present a cultural program during the exhibition that highlights the era of enlightenment to be consistent with the slogan of the exhibition “Do you not reflect!”
Today, the Ministry of Culture and Sports held a press conference to announce the details of the exhibition in the presence of His Excellency Mr. Salah bin Ghanem Al-Ali, Minister of Culture and Sports and officials of the Ministry and His Excellency Mr. Frank Gellet, Ambassador of the French Republic in Qatar and a group of writers, intellectuals and media professionals.
His Excellency Mr. Salah bin Ghanem Al-Ali, Minister of Culture and Sports, stressed, in press statements on the side-lines of the conference, that the Doha International Book Fair has gained a prominent international status. It has witnessed a qualitative shift in recent years as it has become a focal point for lovers of knowledge of all kinds and an incentive to all to search for such knowledge, through serious contributions of distinguished publishers, a great interaction between intellectuals from Qatar and abroad. He further indicated that the exhibition in its thirtieth edition in particular achieved record numbers in terms of participation, whether in regards to publishing houses or countries, and that this edition witnessed a great demand for participation. The Ministry, through the organizing committee, worked on selecting the best publishing houses, as the committee worked on analysing the content of what was provided by publishing houses in the previous version, and therefore, the participation of a number of publishing houses was rejected due to the lack of quality in their form or content.
He stressed, at the same time, that the Ministry of Culture and Sports opened the door for everyone to participate, including publishing houses from the States of the Siege. This year, however, publishing houses from these States did not apply to participate, although there are books for authors from these states sold at the exhibition, as the Ministry completely separates culture from politics. He further noted that the scope of freedoms is open to everyone in Qatar, with the exception of books that incite racism or despise against others, or include an attack on religions and the like, which is the practice in various countries of the world because the state believes in the freedom of belief and cannot accept books that carry racism or abuse of the heavenly religions.
His Excellency the Minister of Culture and Sports said that the exhibition is not an event for selling books as much as it is a place for reflection according to the slogan of this session, “Do you not reflect?!” It provides an invitation for reflection and contemplation, through its activities, and it also hosts elite thinkers from different continents of the world. He pointed out that the cultural activities set in the exhibition were all streaming towards achieving the exhibition slogan by raising questions in human beings and searching for questions and answers about the major human perceptions that drive us to rise and progress. He further expressed his strong belief that the current generation is able to raise deep questions and search for answers to them.
He explained that this new edition comes to reinforce the trend towards raising societal awareness, giving knowledge its central role in defining human behaviour, thanks to the stimulation of thinking capabilities, enlightening minds with what they need of perceptions for changing the human lifestyle to the better, and renewing the civilized contribution based on respecting the diversity between Cultures of peoples. He also pointed out that the exhibition this year focused mainly on children, and is also suitable for all members of the family that has been the focus of attention of those responsible for the exhibition, as many events are concerned with children, and a whole section was devoted to children in the name of “Qatar School” for children, as well as children’s competitions that motivate their thinking. HE called on the families to attend the children events as well as the acquisition of that book that is considered as useful for raising the minds of our children’s thinking and activities.
In response to a question by Qatar News Agency )Qena) about the care given by the Ministry of Culture and Sports to the publishing industry and interest in the Qatar publishing houses, HE Mr. Salah bin Ghanem Al-Ali, Minister of Culture and Sports, stressed that there are no intellectual restrictions on publishers in general, and Qatar is an important cultural and intellectual destination for all publishers even from the financial aspect, as a result of the purchasing power in society. Despite the agreement with the publishing houses with special discounts at the exhibition, they achieve satisfactory profits for them during the Doha exhibition, so all conditions are conducive to the success of the exhibition in various aspects. He further pointed out that the Qatari publisher enjoys special support from the Ministry of Culture and Sports. More importantly, the general atmosphere of the publisher in Qatar seeks to make the State a major point in the publishing and book exchange industry in the region, and this edition of the book fair seeks to develop the publishing profession by establishing the Doha Publishers Fellowship Program.
His Excellency indicated that the approval of the new date for the exhibition was agreed upon following a comprehensive study of the schedule of events for the State, and to avoid incompatibility with each other, especially the celebrations of the Qatar’s National Day, and the World Cup event hosted by the State of Qatar during the month of December 2022, in addition to coordination with the exams of public and private schools. The adoption of the new date was also decided upon as an attempt by the Ministry of Culture and Sports to provide an opportunity for various segments of society, especially those interested in reading and knowledge, to visit the exhibition as the annual forum for the book industry, including authors, publishers and distributors as well as their audience of intellectuals and students of knowledge and friends of the book from various segments of the society.
For his part, His Excellency Mr. Frank Gellet, Ambassador of the French Republic in Qatar, expressed his pride in hosting of the State of France as the guest of cultural honour for the Doha International Book Fair in its thirtieth edition, thanking the Ministry of Culture and Sports for cooperating to come up with a distinguished cultural program, pointing out that France’s participation in the Doha International Book Fair is considered as the first activities of the Qatar-France cultural year 2020, which will include many cultural and artistic activities in both countries to achieve cultural cooperation. He further praised the depth of bilateral relations between the two countries, especially cultural, and the interest of the State of Qatar in promoting cultural exchange, especially with countries interested in the Francophone culture as Qatar is a member of the Francophone Organization.
His Excellency also added that he is grateful for Qatar’s interest in the French language, which is an indication of the openness of the State of Qatar to the different cultures in the world, indicating that the French participation will be under the title of “The Enlightenment Era”. The Doha Book Fair will highlight the French culture by rebuilding a French plaza that features cafes and libraries that symbolize this era.
He reviewed some of the French activities in the exhibition, including the exhibition “Enlightenment… A Legacy for the Future” (digital exhibition from the French National Library), and ancient books from the Qatar National Library, heritage and digital technology: beautiful books from the National Edifices Centre publishing house. A selection of beautiful books is presented on the historical monuments and the French heritage, as well as illustrated stories and treasures from the French heritage, and a selection of the major classical books of the Enlightenment in the size of pocket books for (Diderot, Kant, Rousseau, Voltaire) and others. In addition, there is a program of lectures and signature of French books and French art shows. The French Institute present discussion sessions for students of a number of schools with a group of authors and writers and will also provide a number of events and seminars.
For his part, Mr. Jassem Al-Buainain, Director of the Doha International Book Fair, spoke, explaining that the exhibition continues from 9 to 18 January with the participation of 335 publishing houses, including ten Qatari publishing houses, in addition to libraries and other Qatari institutions. He further noted that the participating publishing houses this year represent 31 countries, and there are new countries participating for the first time, such as Belgium and Australia. He added that the exhibition includes 797 pavilions extending over 29 thousand square meters. The exhibition has been designed in a different and distinct manner this year for easy access to the required resources. The main area at the centre of the exhibition has been dedicated to events as the Qatar-France cultural year is being celebrated as well as enriching cultural activities, both in the main theatre, the cultural salon, cultural cafes, and the Qatar School for Children’s Activities, as well as the allocation of a centre for media professionals.
The director of the book fair indicated that the exhibition working hours were fixed to be from Saturday to Wednesday from nine in the morning until nine in the evening, and on Thursday from nine in the morning until ten in the evening and on Friday from three in the afternoon until ten in the evening. The necessary facilities have been provided to the exhibition audience. Parking is free during the exhibition period for visitors, as well as the availability of a free trolleys service and book delivery.
For his part, Mr. Radi Al-Hajri, Vice-President of the Cultural Committee at the exhibition, discussed the role of the cultural committee in overseeing the big theatre and halls and the Qatar School. He added that through the theatre seminars and events will be held and prominent personalities and authors will attend, in addition to theatrical shows that are concerned with the younger generation (children). A play “Baraem” (The Offspring) directed specially to this generation. Poetry evenings will also be held as well as a French musical evening, and other activities aimed at developing cultural advancement and promoting culture.
He pointed out that the cultural program for the exhibition includes main seminars on the main stage and seminars of the cultural salon, in addition to 21 workshops in Qatar School and 8 events in the school yard that take the form and format of Qatar’s heritage in addition to 5 inspiring halls for the rising generation, all of which fall under the slogan “Qatar Reads”. There will also be in addition to all that in the cultural salon a signature session of copies to the book written by the late Abdulaziz Jassim.
He added that this year’s cultural program features many seminars, lectures and meetings, including a lecture on promoting heritage to build a better future in which Filip Pavlav, head of the French National Antiquities Center, will take the stage. Furthermore, a symposium on “Turkish culture between historical depth and cultural openness” will be held in addition to inaugurating the new and membership identity of the Qatari Forum for Authors. There will also be a session of theatrical dialogue and the meeting of His Excellency the Minister of Culture and Sports with authors at the end of the exhibition. Moreover, 13 training workshops that range from the field of education and self-development to the field of reading and developing writing and language skills and others will be held, including workshops in the foundations of building a national identity, personal planning workshops, and workshops for women.
The exhibition will feature a cultural competition “Do you not reflect?!”, which is a cultural competition made available to all of Qatar’s primary government schools for the fifth and sixth grade. It consists of four stages, namely the cultural league, the final quarter stage, the semi-final stage, and the final stage. These stages involve several cultural challenges in which 34 schools including (15 boys schools and 19 girls schools) will participate.
The 30th Doha Book Fair is witnessing the broadest participation of the Qatari private publishing houses, as this session comes to witness a real and strong launch for the Qatari cultural and publishing makers with the participation of Lusail Publishing and Distribution House – Rosa Publishing House – Zekrit Publishing House Al-Watad House for Books and Publications – Qatar University House the House of Culture. All are participating with what they have of clear vision for serving the culture and intellectuals in the State of Qatar and abroad, in addition to the distinguished participation of the Katara Publishing House, Hamad Bin Khalifa University Publishing House and Dar Al Sharq.
A number of Arab and foreign embassies are also participating in the exhibition in Doha, including that of the United States of America, Japan, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, and Syria.
The 30th edition is characterized by the large participation of Arab and foreign publishers reaching 335 publishers and official institute. Meanwhile, the number of participating agencies reaches 51 Arab and foreign agencies, the number of booths of Arabic books is 559, represented by 228 publishing houses, and the number of foreign booths is 91 wards represented by 35 foreign houses, while the number of publishing houses for children reaches 72, while the number of booths reaches 797.
Moreover, a number of ministries and government institutions in the State will participate in the exhibition.
The Doha International Book Fair is an important annual destination for both Qatari intellectuals and authors or for their counterparts in the Arab world and beyond. The publisher, author and reader meet, to express together the common horizon for the development of both Arab and human culture, which is a kind of qualitative acquaintance that cultures live among themselves to nurture cultural values within the framework of dialogue, difference and mutual respect. It is one of the largest international book fairs that are held in the region and has a great status, given the great demand witnessed by Arab and foreign countries, which has been increasing since the establishment of its first edition in 1972. The exhibition was held at that time every two years, until 2002 when it was decided that it is to be held every year, which earned it a great international status and character, especially after its success in attracting the largest and most important publishing houses in the world.