LAHORE:05 February: The amity between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has started attracting academics with participation of think tanks and publishers from Saudi Arabia and Middle East in 33rd Lahore International Book Fair 2019. The 33rd Lahore International Book Fair, which continues at grand Hall-I of Expo Centre here from 1st to 5th February 2019, brought together local and international academic/research institutes/think-tanks and publishers under one roof attracting book lovers of all ages. For the first time, a Saudi think-tank based in Riyadh – Rasanah International Institute for Iranian Studies, has set up a stall at Lahore International Book Fair. Rasanah is an academic and research institute that studies Iran’s internal and external circumstances, its behaviour, relations and influence in the Middle East region purely on academic grounds. After Prime Minister Imran Khan’s back to back visits of Saudi Arabia and ahead of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s sojourn, Saudi think tanks and publishers are attracted towards Pakistan, highlighting a new trend. The Lahorites are excited to see international publishers particularly from Saudi Arabia and Middle East setting up book stalls in the exhibition. “The love and warmth I have received during my maiden visit to Pakistan is something I shall never forget” said Hashr al-Badrani, while talking to The News as he deals with his customers while donning traditional Arabic attire at Rasanah’s stall. The Saudi national laid emphasis on learning each other’s languages and cultures. “I liked Pakistani food, though it’s a bit spicy,” he said, while stressing more people to people contact between the two countries. “Pakistan is a blend of modern developments and rich in history and culture,” he said, adding that ancient heritage and monuments of Mughal era in Walled City of Lahore are a treat for the tourists. Another publishing house with its base in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Middle East, also set up stall with books on religion in Arabic, Urdu, English, French and Spanish languages. “We have been rendering services since 1986 to familiarise people with Islamic history and teachings by participating in book fairs around the world,” Okasha Mujahid told The News. The 270 stalls showcased a variety of books on literature, poetry, art & culture, medical, engineering, science, novels, biographies, travelogues, textbooks, guides, general knowledge, history, social sciences, geographic and religion. The international publishers from USA, UK, Germany and India also displayed their stalls through their publishing partners in Pakistan. Arshad Rehman, a local school teacher, said that the social media has been spoiling reading habits of our young generation. Therefore, he said, it is our duty to acquaint children with books by attending such book fairs. “Though the digital media took over the books, it also contributed a lot,” said Afshan Raheem, a medical student. “Since it is very difficult for us to read heavy medical books, I get important information related to my subjects online,” she argued, yet she said it doesn’t mean we should abandon reading books. “That is why I’m here to get some books to increase my general knowledge,” she added. The fair also offers children’s attractions, including drawing activities. “It is a wonderful event. People must attend such events with their kids to cultivate reading habits among the children,” said Ms Ambreen. Lahore International Book Fair Trust Chairman, Zubair Saeed said that they had been holding the book fair for the last 33 years with a view to attracting people towards books. “As the digital gadgets have almost taken over books, we must join hands to nourish reading habits of younger generation,” he added. He also invited think-tanks, research institutes and publishers more from Saudi Arabia and Middle East and all over the world to join Lahore International Book Fair every year.The news.