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RIYADH: The Riyadh International Book Fair, or RIBF 2023, is attracting thousands of visitors daily. It offers its audience millions of books, new titles and manuscripts, as well as a space for intellectual and cultural dialogue.

Omani literature and culture is in the spotlight this year as the sultanate is the “guest of honour” country.

Oman’s pavilion reflects the cultural exchange and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the sultanate. It represents its national culture, books and manuscripts, showcasing the distinctiveness of Omani culture.

The RIBF was launched by the Saudi Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission at its new headquarters at King Saud University on Sept. 28 and will continue until Oct. 7. It attracts publishers, intellectuals and content creators from all over the world.

Hassan Al-Matrooshi, cultural expert at the Omani Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, and a member of the Omani delegation, told Arab News: “This is a very important opportunity to be here in this big cultural event. This is one of the biggest and most important book fairs around the Arab world. So it’s an important opportunity to be here showing a lot of our cultural aspects, like poetry, novels, history and so many other things, also our arts and music.”

The Omani participation as a guest of honor was an affirmation of the rapprochement between the two countries, and an embodiment of the distinguished cultural relations and issues of concern to Arab culture and thinkers, Al-Matrooshi said.

“This comes within the framework of the deep, long and strong brotherly relationships between Oman and Saudi Arabia. It builds up and enhances all the cultural cooperations between the two countries. There are a lot of things we are aiming to achieve through this platform,” he said.

“Oman actually has been participating for a long time, but this year it’s our first time to be a guest of honor, which is very important.

“This is an opportunity to build up on what has already been built up through history, through a long experience,” Al-Matrooshi said.

“And this definitely will help to strengthen cultural exchange, cultural relations between the two countries. We have a lot to give to each other. Saudi Arabia is a great country with a huge history and civilization. Oman also has great history, culture, heritage. We have a lot of things in common; we speak the same language, share the same heritage, and we live in the same region. We have the same religion. So we feel here we are in our country. There are a lot of things that we can give, and there are a lot of things we can also gain from this opportunity,” he said.

“There are publishers and some official establishments (participating). Of course, the main organizer is the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, but we also have here the Ministry of Tourism and Heritage, Ministry of Auqaf and Religious Affairs, Sultan Qaboos University Cultural Club. As you see, there are a lot of establishments, official and also private publishers here, around ten publishers exhibiting their books.

“There is a huge amount of visitors and also publishers coming here, that is encouraging.

“The princes, high officials to intellectuals, poets, writers, all sorts of visitors. So this is an opportunity for them and us,” he said.

“Due to similarity we visit each other, every year we receive thousands of our Saudi brothers in Muscat and in Salalah during tourist season.

“We are having a lot of Saudis present on our occasions, cultural and tourism. I am still inviting them to come and see Oman and discover the beauty, the culture of Oman, and the history of their brotherly country to further deepen our ties.”

Al-Matrooshi said that visitors had flocked to the Oman pavilion after the opening last Thursday to see the rare manuscripts, art exhibition, musical shows and VR presentation on display.

The pavilion exhibits a collection of rare manuscripts that reflect Omani cultural history and the sultanate’s role in the Arab world, the connections among Arab countries and people throughout history, and their civilizational role in advancing humanity and serving scientific and cultural purposes.

The Omani pavilion displays diverse aspects of thought, culture, literature, art and heritage, and presents poetry evenings and art shows in which Omani novelists and intellectuals take part.

The pavilion is hosting a folkloric Omani group that performs popular arts, reflecting the diversity and richness of the country.

The outdoor area hosts theater shows featuring Saudi and Omani performances.