Cultural Exchange Highlights Ithra Presence at BIBF 2024

Dr. Ashraf Fagih (C), Aramco Asia vice president of Public Affairs, Abdullah Hawas (R), head of Ithra Library, and Dr. Emir Lin, professor with Peking University, jointly inaugurated the Mandarin version of Al-Muʿallaqāt for Millennials at the Beijing International Book Fair in Beijing, June 19.
  • Presence punctuated with launch of Mandarin version of Al-Muʿallaqāt for Millennials

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), Saudi Aramco’s flagship citizenship initiative, will continue its mission of promoting cross-cultural exchange, awareness and understanding through knowledge sharing during the Beijing International Book Fair being held June 19-23 in the Chinese capital.

Emblematic of its mission and highlighting its presence at the annual event will be the launch of a Mandarin version of Al-Muʿallaqāt for Millennials in partnership with the Department of Arabic Language & Culture of Peking University. The book is a collection of ten pre-Islamic Arabic qaṣīdahs (odes), each considered to be the best piece of the most famous Arab poets of the sixth century. The selection originally enjoys a unique position in Arabic literature, representing the finest of early Arabic poetry. It is intended to educate new generations about the human, aesthetic and philosophical values of these ancient poems, and to share knowledge through language aimed at various reading levels.

The Beijing International Book Fair, now the second largest in the world, attracts more than 2600 exhibitors from more than 100 countries and regions every year. BIBF has become a large-scale international publishing exchange event covering books, digital, animation and other industries. An exhibitor at the event, Ithra Library will showcase its status as one of the largest and most technologically advanced in the Middle East and a world-class destination for readers from around the globe, offering a variety of resources, tools and engaging experiences.

The Ithra Library is a four-story structure covering more than 6,000 square meters and is home to over 340,000 books in English and Arabic. The Library applies the latest technologies and tools, including RFID technology that makes borrowing books a breeze, as well as a smart book returning and sorting system, free internet, and computers for research and study purposes. The first digitally integrated library in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ithra’s Digital Library serves as a digital haven of over 50,000 free e-books and audiobooks available to book lovers across the globe, as well as over 7,000 newspapers and magazines available in 60 languages.

Ashraf Alfagih, Aramco Asia’s Vice President for Public Affairs said “It is fascinating to witness the verses uttered by great Arab poets who lived in the historic settlements of the Arabia Peninsula more than 2000 year ago, being recited and interpreted in Mandarin today. This is a testament of how deep-rooted civilizations may still collectively inspire souls and enrich minds. This cross cultural message is in the heart of Ithra’s mission.”

Ithra is a cultural landmark not just in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but across the Arab World and the globe as well,” said Tariq Khawaji, Cultural Adviser to Ithra. “Our goal at BIBF is to expand our reach and encourage greater collaboration, cultural exchange and knowledge sharing. Our presence here serves as a window into our offerings, our country and our culture. We are excited to share and start conversations that lead to deeper understanding and continued positive cultural exchange.”

Ithra’s booth design planned for the event is inspired by the steel pipe structure of its iconic facility to mimic the magnificent futuristic architecture of the building that frames the high-quality programs that are held inside.

“Last year, the Ithra Library had over 700,000 visitors. We successfully conducted more than 100 reading club sessions, 15 programs, and around 175 cultural sessions,” added Khawaji. “Our Library’s programs are not exclusive to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Some of our initiatives now take place in seven cities across the globe and we are hoping to expand that further.”

About the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra):

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is a world-class destination and the beating heart of Saudi Arabia’s creative and culture industry, contributing to its prosperity by enabling talent, supporting content production and encouraging cross-cultural exchange that promotes social harmony and human development. Ithra is Saudi Aramco’s most ambitious CSR initiative and the largest cultural contribution to the Kingdom. Through a compelling series of programs, workshops, performances, events, exhibitions and other various initiatives, Ithra creates world-class experiences that bring together culture, innovation and knowledge designed to appeal to everyone. Ithra’s components include the Idea Lab, Library, Theater, Museum, Cinema, Great Hall, Energy Exhibit, Children’s Museum and Ithra Tower. For more information, please visit: Follow Ithra on social media: Facebook (King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture), Twitter (@Ithra) and Instagram (@Ithra) #Ithra