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Riyadh Chamber rules out rent reduction for book fair

Sunday 12 May 2013

​​​​​The Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) says it will not be able to reduce prices for any vendor using the center, including the Riyadh Book Fair, because it has to cover the operating costs of the venue.

Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, president of RCCI, confirmed that the Convention and Exhibition Center cost the chamber over SR 250 million and that the rent does not cover expenses.

He stressed the fact that the Book Fair will be treated like all the other exhibitions. He said the chamber does not expect big profits from the center because it was organized to serve the commercial and cultural sectors in the city of Riyadh.

He said the cost of exhibitions in Saudi Arabia is less than in the other Arab countries. Moreover, it should be borne in mind that book vendors and marketers in Riyadh Exhibition "sell large quantities," he said.

"Exhibition centers in other Arab countries do not work with trade fairs, whether selling books or other consumables, unless they can ensure coverage of anticipated costs," the RCCI chief said.

Al-Zamil said that more exhibition centers should be built by the private sector in Riyadh because one does not meet market demand. He said the private sector will not enter the market if it cannot make good profits.

Al-Zamil said the cost of renting the Riyadh Exhibition Center from the regulator, namely the Ministry of Culture and Information, is SR 20 per square meter per day, and the final price submitted is based on the organizer’s costs. He said the Chamber cannot interfere in determining the prices for the organizers.

The Ministry of Culture and Information's Undersecretary for Cultural Affairs Nasser Hejailan said the total cost of the Riyadh International Book Fair is SR 22 million, while the ministry will only get SR 3 million from publishers, thus bearing the remaining costs, even though it is supposed to be funded by the exhibition itself.

He explained that the ministry is trying to get Saudi universities to buy surplus books from publishers in order to reduce transport costs on them.

Hejailan said book fairs in neighboring countries are usually the affair of the ministry and do not exceed a period of more than three days, but the Riyadh Exhibition is rented by the Riyadh Chamber for 10 days.

The Ministry of Culture and Information, represented by the Agency of Cultural Affairs, has agreed to a request from Saudi publishers that prices for the Riyadh International Book Fair will remain as it was last year and that they will get 40 to 50 percent more exhibition space. Consumers have welcomed the move because they say it will keep the costs of books down.

Abdullah Al-Jasser, vice minister of culture and information for cultural affairs, during a meeting with publishers 12 days ago, said that the ministry as a sponsor of culture, is concerned about publishers and readers. He said the ministry will be closely monitoring the prices of books this year.