“Although this marks Malaysia’s first participation in the RIBF, we hope it will not be our last. We hope that through this year’s RIBF, the relations between Kuala Lumpur and Riyadh will be further strengthened and continue to flourish for the benefit of both countries under the spirit of Iqra’.”
THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE RIYADH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR 2017 #RIBF2017
- First of all, on behalf of the government of Malaysia, I wish to express our sincerest gratitude and appreciation to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and his government, in particular the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information through its minister, Dr Adel al-Toraifi, for inviting Malaysia as the guest of honour for Riyadh International Book Fair (RIBF) 2017.
- Malaysia is deeply grateful to be the first ASEAN country to be given this honour since the RIBF was first organised nine years ago. It is indeed an advantage for Malaysia to participate in RIBF which attracts more than 2 million visitors, especially in our effort to enhance the web of knowledge resources between the two countries, particularly Kuala Lumpur and Riyadh.
- This is among the notable achievements of Malaysia, following its invitation as the guest of honour at two other book fairs, namely the Tokyo International Book Fair in 2014 and the Indonesia International Book Fair in 2016. On behalf of the Malaysian delegation, I would like to convey our thanks and gratitude for the invitation and hospitality rendered during the duration of the RIBF. We are eager to promote the works of Malaysian writers to visitors of RIBF 2017, particularly visitors from Saudi Arabia.
- Malaysia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a strong longstanding bilateral relationship. The recent inaugural and historic visit of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Abdul Aziz Al Saud to Malaysia can be described as a new era in Malaysia-Saudi Arabia relations. Saudi Arabia is Malaysia’s second largest trading partner in the Middle East while Malaysia is Saudi Arabia’s 19th biggest trading partner. Nearly 60 per cent of Malaysia’s total exports to Saudi Arabia are related to palm oil and palm-based agricultural products, machinery, equipment and parts, processed food and electrical and electronic products. The King’s visit and the huge amount of new trade being generated around it showed the public votes of confidence in the economic reform programmes between the two nations. MoUs were signed which involved scientific, educational and economic cooperation, labour and human resources, and also on the exchange of news between Bernama and the Saudi Press Agency.
- Consequently, we view this invitation to Malaysia as the guest of honour at the Riyadh International Book Fair 2017 as being a new cooperation to be explored in line with the principles of ukhuwwah or brotherhood. It is our sincere hope that RIBF 2017 will be the new catalyst for the strengthening of ties already established between our two countries. It is also hoped that new collaboration in publishing, literature, translation as well as copyrighted works and intellectual rights will be sealed throughout the ten days of the book fair.
- Malaysia and Saudi are going through a crucial process of transformation and we need solid foundation to build strong human capital. In line with this aim, Malaysia has chosen a theme for this year’s RIBF, “Young Readers. Limitless Future Projects” to reflect a popular Malay saying, “melentur buluh biarlah dari rebungnya”, which means “to bend a bamboo, do it while it is still growing”, or the wise saying by Hassan al-Basri seeking knowledge at a young age is like engraving on a stone”. We also view this theme as being in line with the focus of the Government of Saudi Arabia on quality education development planning for children and youth as outlined in Vision 2030: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Malaysia too, through its Education Blueprint 2013-2025, has outlined several primary attributes to ensure that every student is equipped with the knowledge and skills to succeed in life.
- The Malaysian delegation to RIBF 2017 has brought together extensive collection of works and ranging from Islamic banking and economics, history and culture, and education that caters for all walks of life. The multiracial society in Malaysia accommodates a range of cultures, languages and traditions. Various intellectual and cultural activities have been planned for the next 10 days. The Chief Minister of the state of Perak, Dato’ Seri Diraja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, will present a paper on his own vision in developing this Malaysian state through the aesthetics and beauty of knowledge and literature. Datuk Dr Mohd Daud Bakar, an expert on Islamic finance and economy, will discuss issues relating to economic policies in the current economic situation. We have also brought with us Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid, also known as Lat, Malaysia’s best-loved cartoonist, who has flown all over the world bringing fame to Malaysia through his comic, Kampung Boy, which has been translated into more than 15 languages including Arabic.
- A number of other exciting events will be held at the Malaysian Pavilion. They include painting demonstrations by prominent Malaysian artists such as Jaafar Taib, Dr Siti Zainon Ismail and Associate Professor Dr Ramzah Dambul and a talented 13-year-old artist, Naim Hamid Hamidin. To showcase the synergy of Malay and Arab culture and traditions, we will present to you the Zapin dance and Ghazal performance by our young Malaysian talents from Sekolah Seni Malaysia or the Malaysia Arts School. These will be on show daily. I would like to invite all of you to Malaysia’s pavilion and experience what Malaysia has to offer in the Riyadh International Book Fair.
- Although this marks Malaysia’s first participation in the RIBF, we hope it will not be our last. We hope that through this year’s RIBF, the relations between Kuala Lumpur and Riyadh will be further strengthened and continue to flourish for the benefit of both countries under the spirit of Iqra’.
- On behalf of the government of Malaysia, I once again would like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation for the opportunity given to us as the guest of honour, specifically to the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information as the organiser of RIBF 2017.
Wabillahi taufiq wal hidayah wassalaamualaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
“Choosing Malaysia as the guest of honor is consistent with the distinctive ties between the two countries in political, economic, cultural and tourism fields.” – Culture and Information Minister Adel Al-Toraifi.
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