(MENAFN - Gulf Times) The Doha International Book Fair (DIBF) is more important than 'just an event for selling books and its significance stems from the necessity to renew the relationship with books, HE the Minister of Culture and Sports Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali has said.
The relationship of Qataris with books went beyond material things like degrees and jobs thereby becoming an emotional relationship, he noted.
HE al-Ali made the observations on the opening day of the book fair at Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre yesterday.
Following the inaugural ceremony, HE al-Ali said Qatar's relationship with books is old, dating back to the time of the founder, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed bin Thani, who attached great importance to books in spite of difficult circumstances and economic and political responsibilities.
HE the Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs Dr Ghaith bin Mubarak al-Kuwari said what draws attention to the fair is that it is based on the local interest in culture since the establishment of the country to the subsequent generations, its emergence in international forums, its interaction with all cultures and the preservation of the original culture with the absorption of many ideas, the official Qatar News Agency reported.
He congratulated the organisers of the fair, wishing them further success.
HE the Speaker of the Shura Council Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud said the first book fair established in the Gulf was in Qatar, and expressed happiness at the level it has attained over the years starting with the good organisation that reflects the keenness of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani with regard to culture and knowledge.
He said Qatar is part of the world that seeks to spread knowledge, culture, love, peace and stability and this is what Qatar stands for since the time of its founder Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed bin Thani until the present day.
In response to a question on the role of Qatar Fund For Development (QFFD) at the fair, its director-general Khalifa bin Jassim al-Kuwari said the organisation will sign an agreement with the DIBF. Last year, QFFD funded a few books by Syrians to implement an agreement signed with Qatar Red Crescent Society, he added.
Meanwhile, participants in this year's book fair include 287 publishers of Arabic books, 68 publishers of children's books, 17 educational publishers as well as 25 publishing houses dealing with foreign books. There are some 791 stalls at the fair.
The fair includes around 101,992 titles in Arabic and 17,261 titles in foreign languages, taking the total to 119,253.
A number of ministries and government institutions, including the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, Police College, Qatar University, Katara Prize for Arabic Novels, Qatar Museums, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, National Human Rights Committee and the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies, are participating in the fair.
GCC participants at the fair include the Kuwaiti National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature as well as the Ministry of Culture of Oman and relevant ministries from Morocco, Algeria and Palestine.
The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism is participating through a distinguished pavilion, in addition to special contributions from a number of missions in Qatar, including embassies of the US, France, South Korea and Palestine.
Spain is participating for the first time in the exhibition this year, through a publishing house specialising in children's books.
The number of publishers from Lebanon, Jordan and Morocco has increased this year. Also, the embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic is participating in the fair for the first time.