Opened by Makkah governor Prince Khalid Al-Faisal last week, the ten day Jeddah International Book Fair in Saudi Arabia cannot hope to beat its big sister the Riyadh International Book Fair when it comes to visitor numbers, but it sure can impress.

In March the Riyadh fair crossed the 1 million visitor mark for the first time.

And as per the TNPS post from last year, the Jeddah International Book Fair, while not quite as large, can certainly punch above its weight.

This year some 50,000 visitors are expected every day at the Land of Events in South Abhur, and as this is a ten day event, finishing December 21, we could be seeing another half million clocked up for the Jeddah International Book Fair in 2019.

Regulars here at TNPS will know that’s nothing unusual in the Arab world, where the Erbil International Book Fair in Iraqi Kurdistan clocked 400,00 visitors (that’s more than Frankfurt) –

Meanwhile Casablanca saw 550,00 visitors this year, both Baghdad and Muscat joined Riyadh with more than one million visitors each, Algiers disappointed with “only” 1.1 million (down on last year) and Sharjah held its position as the second biggest Arab book fair with 2.52 million visitors.

Yet that was still a long way behind Cairo, which remains the world’s biggest book fair by attendance.

So much for the notion that Arabs don’t read.

So far this year censorship on the Arab book fair circuit has not been as big an issue as in previous years. But it’s hard to tell how much that is a relaxation of strict rules and how much is simply publishers playing by the rules and not causing a scene.

This year the Jeddah fair has 400 publishing houses from 40 countries taking part, and Arab News reports that the event has 350,000 titles on offer.

Check out the Jeddah International Book fair website here.