Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Culture Fair for Children in Riyadh

Something very interesting currently going on in Riyadh is the first International Children Culture Fair at the King Fahad cultural center. For more info check the Blue Abaya events section!

I went to the fair with my friend Aisha Al-Hajjar who was asked to cover it for Arab News, she writes columns for Saudi Life and has her own blog Saudi Birth Story too. I was honored to be asked by her to cover for the photos for the Arab News article.

Coming from an extremely strong culture of reading, (we grew up reading books, not watching TV) the fair was a very positive surprise for me. There was so many children's books for sale ranging from toddlers touch and learn type books to older kids bedtime stories. The fair had many books in English as well and some English learning centers were represented along with a few embassies such as Sweden and Japan.

My husband bought some books for our baby because she is already such a little bookworm! These were her first Arabic language books. I started reading to her when she was a few weeks old in Finnish and now whenever she sees a book she tries to grab it so it is definitely paying off already.

Reading to children is not as common in Saudi-Arabia than it is in Finland, but it seems to be growing in popularity. Reading to your kids is always highly beneficial for their language skills and strengthens the bond between the child and parent.

A nice bedtime story will help the child relaz and wind down before falling asleep and even look forward to going to bed. I hope many parents get the inspiration and encouragement of reading to their kids from this fair.

The fair had many other aspects to it on top of the book fair there was a museum, plays and shows and interactive learning center. I would recommend all parents Saudis and expats alike visit this fair with their children!
The King Fahad cultural center has very modern architecture and pleasant surroundings with fountains and gardens.
Children being interviewed for television.
Can you guess the sponsor of this event?
I was surprised how all the classic fairy tales that we know from childhood could be found at the fair and had passed the Saudi censors. There was some excellent books on Islam in English language for children available too.
Cute little boy hugging his book!
Fun interactive books for toddlers
There were lot of booths to browse various kinds of children's books. Most were in Arabic language but they did have English books too.
This book was about the history of Saudi-Arabia

These young Saudi men were dressed in traditional outfits and were performing traditional dancing at the fair.
Saudi hand puppets!
A happy kid enjoys the fair with his father
Face paintings were a hit!
You can have your name written in Japanese at the Japanese embassy booth!

Pretty Saudi girls dressed in traditional dresses with flower bands on their hair.
A girl being interviewed by media.
More hand puppets.
More toddler books! Was hard to choose which ones to get for my daughter.
Monkey manners is a marvelous way to teach kids basic manners ;) 
 Fountains outside the center.
 Such a pretty girl and pretty dress!
A marvelous book for expecting mothers with children and curious questions to answer how the baby got there!
The architecture inside the King Fahad cultural center is impressive!


Anonymous said...

salam aleykum
Masha'Allah.. great post thanx for sharing. I wish I could have been there.

Heli said...

Looking at all the little girls in their pretty dresses, I wonder, at what age do they start using abaya?

Layla said...

usually when they get into puberty..but some families have them in abayas much earlier.

Noor said...

Wow mashAllah this looks so nice I would have loved to go. Is it over?

Anonymous said...

I wish I went with you yesterday :( I don't think my husband is up to going at all :( I am glad it went well.. yala.. enshallah we make a plan for next years one ;)(I think 2day is the last day.. right? or is it 2morrow?

Om Lujain

Dentographer said...

this is one of the things that keeps me awake at night,given that i am actively engaging my self into reading and not yet made it a habit,it does take me an effort to keep it a daily activity,i used to read when i was younger,comics,and pocket books and everything but it was somthing that i liked to do at a younger age and it was not somthing my parents instilled in me.

now being parent,its becoming a stressful burden on me and i always wonder are we raising our kids to be little readers or not,not to mention being in this age where there is ALOT of my daily read is done on a computer,and kids have yet to understand that not every sitting infront of a computer is entertainment OR educational, teaching the habit of reading physical books is becoming a challenge.

Mommy is a very busy bee with her finishing her masters,so she is doing all her readings anyways because she have to,i am doing all my readings for leisure.but i do admit that i am falling behind every dead line i am putting,yet i am still pushing my self everyday…

lets hope for the best.

Anonymous said...

it was nice to see that the princesses on the book covers were not scratched out : )

Layla said...

Noor-did you go?

Om Lujain-I would've loved to go again with you because most of the time I was there I was just concentrating on taking photos so I couldn't really enjoy all the fair had to offer.

Dentographer-oh yes keeping reading a daily habit for oneself can be challenging!I hope to be able to read to my daughter every night when she's older.
Reading physical books is becoming more and more rare because of all the ebooks on offer nowadays. But then again you cant take your computer to all the places you can go with a book :)

Stephi-Yes it was, and I even found disney piglet!

Felicia said...

It looks like it was a lot of fun!

It's very important to read to your kids, and like you mentioned a great time to squeeze it in is bedtime. Not too many people do it these days, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous Layla. From Julie

Anonymous said...

Mashallah you take such beautiful pictures! What a lovely culture you have, I love hearing about your finnish stuff! Reading to your children is an absolute must! Out with the TV!


Nicole said...

Oh oh oh, my sister-in-law was working at a booth there and was telling me all about it! I was so wishing I could be there; I am salivating at all of those books, and I don't even have any kids! I'm a book fair nerd from way back, lol, and if KSA has book fairs, I'll be fine. ;-) And a Children's International Culture Fair? I'll be in heaven! :-)