Deputy minister of Higher Education Ahmad Al-Saif is leading the Saudi delegation to attend the inauguration function of the Kingdom’s pavilion at the Seoul International Book Fair 2012 that will take place on June 20. The pavilion will be open till June 24.
Royal approval has been granted to the participation in the fair, which has designated Saudi Arabia as its guest of honor.
“Selection of Saudi Arabia as the guest of honor in the Korea’s international exhibition affirms the Kingdom’s great cultural status in the Arab and Islamic world. It also is in recognition of the Saudi people’s achievements in education, culture and intellectual pursuits. It also provides the Kingdom an occasion to display to the Koreans the Saudi achievements,” Minister of Higher Education Khaled Al-Anqari said in a statement on the occasion.
The Kingdom was the guest of honor in similar exhibitions in Japan and Morocco in the past.
The Ministry of Higher Education is supervising and coordinating the participation in the Seoul event.
Scientific and cultural programs will also be staged in the exhibition, the minister said.
Various ministries, universities, libraries, government departments and publishers are participating as exhibitors in the Kingdom’s pavilions.
Al-Saif said Saudi Arabia’s main pavilion contains sections for replicas of the Two Holy Mosques at Makkah and Madinah, copies of the Holy Qur’an, Arabic calligraphy and artworks besides books representing Saudi culture, intellectual achievements, traditions and customs, architecture, and heritage. Tents for Saudi hospitality will also be displayed at the pavilion.
The ministry has been preparing for the event well in advance so that it can present a real image of the Kingdom befitting its position as the guest of honor.
Kingdom has two pavilions. The main pavilion, covering 420 sq. meters space, houses government and private publications. Thousands of titles covering areas such as Islamic Shariah, Arabic language and literature, history and archeology, geography and tourism are showcased in the book section.
The books are either written by Saudis or published in Saudi Arabia. The children’s section has more than 2,000 books and is managed by women staff. The pavilion is designed with Saudi architectural style and carries the imprint of the Saudi heritage.
The 340-sq. meters second Saudi pavilion is set up at a downtown location and showcases artworks representing customs and folk traditions of the Kingdom, calligraphy and photos.
A website, www.mohe.gov.sa, has been designed to mark the occasion of the Saudi participation as the guest of honor at the exhibition. It supplies information about the participants and the book titles and other showcased items. Huge screens are also installed in the exhibition ground to present video shows on Saudi culture, tourist attractions and developmental projects and achievements in the field of health and education.
Speaking on the occasion, South Korean Ambassador to the Kingdom Kim Jong Yong said diplomatic relations between two countries was established in 1962. The relations became particularly strong with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s (who was crown prince at the time) visit to Korea in 1998 and Korean president’s visit to the Kingdom in 2007. “President Lee Myung-bak visited this year to open the 27th Janadriyah national heritage festival,” he said.
The ambassador added that thousands of Koreans worked in the infrastructure construction in the Kingdom at the end of the 70s of the last century. “Now more than 100 Korean companies work to executive value added projects such as petrochemical factories, desalination plants, power generating companies, information technology and telecommunication,” he pointed out.
He also said Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest trade partner of Korea. The volume of trade exchange jumped from $ 4.2 billion in 1991 to $ 43.9 billion with $ 30 billion trade balance in favor of the Kingdom in 2011. The Kingdom is also supplying one third of the total petroleum consumption of Korea. Korean exports to the Kingdom stood at SR 7 billion.
He added that 230 Saudi students are studying in Korea under the King Abdullah foreign scholarship program.
He said about 160,000 Koreans visited the Kingdom while 8,000 Saudis visited his country in the year. He added that 3,000 Koreans are currently working in the Kingdom.
Yon Hyung-do, president of the Korean Publishers Association and the director of the Seoul International Book Fair, told Riyadh Seoul Magazine that the exhibition was first launched in 1954 and grew into an international event in 1995. He said the exhibition started bringing guests of honor in 2008 with the conversion of the exhibition to a cultural festival. The first guest of honor was China followed by Japan in 2009 and France in 2010. Saudi Arabia is the fourth in the list of the honored guests, he said.
He urged both the countries to boost the cultural relations between them especially with more translations and publications.