The Saudi Ministry of Culture was a key participant in this year’s edition of the London Book Fair held from 18 to 20 April. The Saudi pavilion which was represented by the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission was hugely popular, attracting visitors and connecting literature enthusiasts.
The pavilion helped Saudi publishers network with the 1,700 international publishing houses present in the fair, with several landing contracts to have Arabic works translated and marketed to a global audience, as well as obtaining permission to translate popular foreign books into Arabic.
The UAE emirate of Sharjah — which was the guest of honour at last year’s fair— was notably present, as well as the Arab Publishers’ Association and Emirates Publishers Association.
The Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation’s pavilion — a regular participant in the fair — held several intellectual workshops and seminars to help spread awareness on pan-Arab cultural issues. It also held Q&A sessions with some Arab writers to discuss their new books.
Al Majalla interviewed some publishers who took part in the fair, who shared their perspectives on the importance of the event, as well as the general state of the Arab literary world.
Abdullah Al-Ghabeen, the Director General of the Saudi Dar Athar for Publishing and Distribution, said: “The fair helped us connect with several publishers from around the world. It was a great opportunity to introduce them to Arab and Saudi books and to learn about newly released books and sign agreements to publish them into Arabic.”
“We met a group of independent publishers, along with established publishing houses who showcased a nice selection of interesting new books to choose from for translation into Arabic.”
The fair also helps participants identify future trends in the global book industry and learn from experienced international publishing houses on the best publishing and marketing practices, Al-Ghabeen explained.
And with that, the chapter of #LBF23 has come to an end! Thank you to everyone who joined us this Spring, and we're excited to explore a new story with you next year, 12-14 March! pic.twitter.com/lIBRDaZnRb— The London Book Fair (@LondonBookFair) April 20, 2023
He expressed gratitude to the Saudi Ministry of Culture, represented through its Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission, for facilitating Saudi participation in the book fair, which resulted in fruitful meetings as well as the securing of contracts.
Fahd Al-Awdeh, the founder and Deputy CEO of Kalemat Agency Publishing House, which was also part of the Saudi pavilion, said his agency’s participation reflected its deep commitment to its cultural responsibility as well as contributing to the Saudi 2030 Vision.
“It was a great opportunity to personally meet with international entrepreneurs in the publishing sector, which helps us in our goal to introduce Saudi and Arab literature to the entire globe. The fair familiarises Arab intellectuals with the concept of literary agencies and how they can help market their works.”