The Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage H E Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari with British Ambassador Nicholas Hopton (fourth right) and other officials during the opening of the 24th Doha International Book Fair at Doha International Exhibition Centre yesterday. Kammutty V P
DOHA: The 24th Doha International Book Fair opened yesterday, featuring 22,000 books and 360 publishers from 29 countries.
The UK is this year’s guest of honour, bringing over 400 titles from seven leading publishers and side events to celebrate Qatar UK Year of Culture.
“This year, the guest of honour is the UK and they have a very special participation in this book fair,” the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage H E Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari said after inaugurating the fair.
“Culture plays a very important role in paving the way in the promotion of relations between nations,” he said, adding the participation of foreign countries in the fair advances their relations with Qatar, a very important economy. Accompanying this fair are 10 cultural days that cover culture in all aspects, not only education. I think children have the lion’s share at this event this year,” he said. “This participation comes under the umbrella of Qatar UK Year of Culture. We have more than 400 titles from WHSmith, HarperCollins, Bloomsbury, Hachette, Pan Macmillan, Random House, and Scholastic,” said Waseem Kotoub, Arts Programme Manager, British Council An important event at the UK Pavilion is a literary translation summit in which 32 translators will take part with authors conducting workshops — mainly from the British Centre for Literary Translation, added Kotoub.
“Education is a key pillar of Qatar’s National Vision 2030 and the exchange of knowledge and ideas between British publishers and writers and their Qatari counterparts furthers the purpose of the Year of Culture by strengthening ties for years to come,” the Director of the British Council, Martin Hope, said and thanked the Minister. The Publishers Association, the Qatar Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, the British Embassy and the British Council have brought five UK editors to meet their Qatari counterparts to discuss opportunities for collaborations.
Tomorrow, Qatari novelist Abdulaziz Al Mahmoud will discuss the historical context of his translated work The Corsair with an expert on the region, Dr Abdullah Baabood.
Renowned UK guest storyteller Alec Williams will engage primary school classes with stories in the ‘Learn English Kids’ zone and ‘Maktaba Storytelling Time’, in English and Arabic.
Coinciding with the fair is an innovative exchange initiative ‘Walking Cities: Doha and Derry Londonderry’ in which award-winning poet Colette Bryce, from Derry Londonderry, is hosted by poet Maryam Al Subaiey, who will visit Colette in the UK in February.
On December 8, both writers will share experiences from the first leg of their creative journey in Doha, at the fair.
Ben Barbour’s exhibition showcasing his journey from Qatar to the UK aboard an LNG vessel is also shown at the UK pavilion.
Among other embassies having stands are France, the US and Japan. At the Japan stand, the Kinokuniya Bookstore, the biggest bookstore in Japan which has a branch in Dubai, has brought over 90 titles, mostly manga, which has seen huge demand by young Qataris.
“Last year, we sold out 80 percent of books. Many young Qataris love Japanese manga, so this is an opportunity for us to introduce Japanese pop culture here,” said Munehiro Anzawa, Attache, Cultural Affairs and Public Relations, Japan Embassy.
The fair is open to the public until December 14 at Doha International Exhibition Center.