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Turkish president to open international Doha book fair on Wednesday

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Doha International Book Fair
Doha International Book Fair

Turkish President Recep Erdogan will officially launch the 26th Doha International Book Fair tomorrow evening (Dec. 2), which will be held at Qatar National Convention Center and runs for 10 days until Dec. 12.

As Qatar’s year in culture partner, Turkey is the “guest of honor” for this year’s event, organizers said.

Sheikh Tamim and President Erdogan during a visit last year.
Sheikh Tamim and President Erdogan during a visit last year.

During the fair, publishers from more than two dozen countries display and sell tens of thousands of copies of titles in numerous languages.

While most books at the fair are in Arabic, there has been an increasing number of English language titles in recent years.

This fair starts around a month earlier than the previous edition, to avoid clashing with the exam schedule of independent (government-run) schools, the Ministry of Culture, Art and Heritage said.

The ministry is co-organizing the event with Dar-al-Kutub, the Gulf’s first national library, which opened in Doha in 1962.

Past fairs

During the most recent fair in January, around a quarter of the 700,000 visitors were school children, according to a statement by Abdullah Al-Ansari, director of both the ministry’s public libraries department and also the fair.

Doha International Book Fair, January 2015
Doha International Book Fair, January 2015

In addition to new and used books, vendors also sold old manuscripts, maps, electronics, religious texts, children’s titles and other items, and there were children’s areas and book talks.

The “silver jubilee” fair attracted 432 publishers from 29 countries when it ran over 10 days.

This year’s edition will have 427 exhibitors from Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Qatar, the UK, UAE, Turkey, India, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Sudan, Oman, Palestine, Sweden, Algeria, Iran, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Bahrain, Holland, the US and Canada, organizers told Doha News.

One feature includes new online resources for residents who stop at the Qatar National Library (QNL) booth.

QNL will feature demonstrations of its digital library, which launched last October and provides free access to some 500,000 digitized historical and rare manuscripts, archival documents and historical photographs.

Organizers will be on hand to help visitors register to browse the portal, which is the largest digitalization of historical records on the Gulf Arab states and Iran and is a joint project between Qatar Foundation, QNL and the British Library.

Interactive family sessions organized by QNL also include early literacy playtime and parent information sharing, puppet playtime for kids and storytelling, the library said in a statement.

Qatar National Library rendering
Qatar National Library rendering

The new Qatar National Library building is still under construction. Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, it is some way behind its original 2013 opening date.

Facilities on the site will include public computer workstations, digital media production facilities, learning spaces, a children’s library, performance spaces and a cafe, according to QNL’s website.

Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing will also have a booth at the fair, with English and Arabic titles for sale.

Additionally, it will host five literary events for adults and children.

Award-winning children’s author and illustrator Ibtihaj Al Harthi will meet young readers and sign copies of her recent book, Mah and Me, while Qatar-based writer Eissa Abdulla will sign copies of his soon-to-be-released Shawk Al Kawadi.

Sheikha Hend Al Qassemi
Sheikha Hend Al Qassemi

There will also be a panel discussion and signings with bestselling authors from the region including Ibrahim Nasrallah, Jamal Naji and Sheikha Hend Al Qassemi.

As in past years, the upcoming event will feature an international theme, and this year’s choice of Turkey as partner reflects the ongoing year of culture with the country.

President Erdogan will open the fair tomorrow evening while he is in the country on a two-day official visit that started today. He is expected to sign economic, commercial and education-related agreements during his time here, QNA said.

Global partners at past fairs have included Brazil, Japan and Iran.

The fair is open tomorrow (Dec 2) from 7pm til 10pm then daily from 9am til 1pm and 4pm til 10pm, organizers said on Twitter. No specific information was given for the opening times on Friday morning.

Do you plan to check out the fair? Thoughts?

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