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Literature and art attract thousands to Jeddah Book Fair

Of the tens of thousands of people who flocked to the Jeddah International Book Fair, one stood out more than most.
Author Hala Tala Al-Tamimi is 11 years old and was at the fair, signing her debut work “Sweet Imaginations” for fans like a seasoned pro.
“I was inspired to write this book because I wanted to share my writing talent with everyone,” she told Arab News.
Her mother supported her endeavors and was determined to help in whatever way possible, letting Hala focus on writing and busied herself with the publishing process.
“Hala always had a creative side and expressed and interest in creative things in school activities, and she was a good student academically,” the mother told Arab News. “She always had a sense of confidence, so I was excited to hear that she was writing poetry. When she showed me the first drafts, I was impressed by the depth expressed in them.”
The young writer, beaming with pride, said: “All the good comments or advice make me better and more confident and I’m especially happy that there are people that like what I do. Bad comments or advice hurt my feelings, but does nothing to my confidence.”
She added that readers should get ready for a sequel, “Sweet Imaginations Part Two,” as the concept was already in the pipeline.
The fair drew more than 50,000 visitors a day and publishers from 40 countries.
There were more than 60 workshops in fine arts, photography and calligraphy, as well as seminars, lectures, and plays focusing on social and cultural topics.
An accompanying art fair pulled large crowds, even though it was not the main attraction.
Sculptures and paintings from different artists were on display and, among the exhibits, was a man painting a gigantic canvas of the sunken ships of Jeddah.
Hisham Binjabi, 65, said he was the president of an association of fine arts in the Kingdom’s second city and a youth welfare consultant. He also teaches art and oversees two galleries.
“I have always been painting. I was four years old when everybody would stop me from painting because I would paint all the walls black,” he told Arab News. “I just love to see people appreciate art. I never asked anyone to be a painter, it was something that ran in my veins and I just portrayed it through my art.
“Prince Mishaal bin Majed, the governor of Jeddah, asked me to take care of this place and I am actually the one who collected everything in the first place.”
The fair, which ended Sunday, was held under the direct supervision of the Jeddah governor and under the patronage of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal.
There were 2,000 exhibitors and book signings for more than 200 authors. A number of participating countries presented their heritage, folklore and theatrical performances including Jordan, Sudan, Finland, the US and Mexico.
This year’s book fair theme was “Tolerance and Peace” and drew to a close Sunday with Saudi Arabia’s “Ardeh” dance and other folkloric activities.
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