The Qatari-capital hosts the 31st edition of its annual book fair with 335 publication houses amongst booths boasting local and international cultures.
The Doha International Book Fair kicked off on 13 January at Doha Exhibition and Convention Center, hosting 335 publishing houses from all over the word as well as prominent Qatari entities to celebrate reading, art, and culture. The 10-day event also includes daily seminars and lectures, as well as art and writing workshops.
Qatar Reads features an interactive booth that weaves both writing and art. Several artists have been invited to select their favourite quotes from famous books and turn them into corresponding artwork.
The booth asks visitors “Why do you read?”, and invites them to write down a value they gain from reading before placing their answer on a board. Visitors can also register for a Qatar Reads program, or create a new reading package.
US Embassy to the State of Qatar
One of the more eye-catching booths belongs to the US Embassy – the booth takes the visitor through a passage into a space-themed room with stars and astronauts, and displays the slogan for the Book Fair, “Knowledge is Light”.
The booth sells over 7000 books, including both fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. It’s part of the Qatar-USA year of culture which sees a collaboration between both countries in cultural exchange.
Qatar Museums offers a wide selection of publications related to Qatari history and culture, alongside Islamic art, archeology, and orientalism. Some of the titles relate to Qatar Museums’ current exhibitions such as Dior and Jeff Koons.
The booth also hosts artist workshops where participants are invited to speak to an artist about their pieces and technique, while having the opportunity to create artwork themselves.
Multiple embassies are contributing to the diversity of the literature at the fair. The Embassies of Russia, The Philippines and Japan are only a few examples of booths where you can both buy books from the respective countries and learn more about their culture.
For example, the Embassy of South Korea displays how to make Ddakji – the origami flipping game popularised by the Netflix show, Squid Game. Additionally, 31 countries are represented by the multiple publishing houses present at the fair, ensuring a wide range of books to choose from.
Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU)
To find local publications, the booth for HBKU Press is a great starting point. It features a variety of new books in both Arabic and English that have been produced over a span of two years.
It also gives plenty of opportunities to attend author signings, recent signing featured authors such as Matthias Krug (The Girl Who Dreamed of Climbing Mount Everest) and Dr. Reem Al-Anssari (What You Should Know About White-Collar Crime).
The Doha International Book Fair was started in 1972 and has since become one of the largest and oldest book fairs in the region.
It is held annually and hosts publishing houses from across the world, having started with approximately 20 houses in its first edition to 335 houses from 31 countries in 2022. The Book Fair has regularly selected a country as a “Guest of Honour”, of which France holds the title this year.