Saudi Arabia is set to launch a new initiative called Literature Everywhere to improve access to literary works across the Kingdom. These will include podcasts, audiobooks, poetry, short stories, comics.
Mohammed Hasan Alwan, CEO of the commission, said that he hoped the initiative would make literary content more accessible.
“Through innovative means, this initiative aims to make literary content available everywhere, such as waiting areas in public places, airport terminals, malls, coffeehouses, universities, playgrounds, public gardens and beaches. Thus, making literature more accessible to our society through various shapes and channels”.
Literature by QR code
Banners and posters will feature QR codes so that everyone can access literature in public facilities that have a waiting area. By scanning the QR code and choosing a preferred duration, users will be able to listen to a variety of podcasts of up to 45 minutes in length.
Although most of Mohammed Hasan Alwanthe content is in Arabic, the program does include some English-language productions, including Arab News’ “The Mayman Show” podcast hosted by Hussam Al-Mayman. The show features celebrity guests from the worlds of film, TV and sport, as well as discussions on Saudi Arabia’s cultural, social, tourism and entertainment sectors.
Vision 2030 requires people to read
The author of one of the podcasts, geologist Hussain Al-Ismail’s said:
“The initiative arrived at the right time. Within the immense cultural transformations initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030, there was a need to step up the literary scene and its contribution to society. Literature Everywhere is one right step toward redefining what it means to experience literature in our daily lives. That is, instead of restricting literature production and consumption to certain classes as was the case, it is about time to re-imagine it as part of the lived experience that shapes (and is shaped by) a growing quality of life”.
Cafes are encouraged to apply to become a Literary Partner and help spread cultural awareness and highlight the works of Saudi literature authors and contributors. Book clubs, events and literature celebrations, such as Arabic Language Day, are some of the events cafes can hold under the program.
An experimental phase was launched in 2020 in airports across the Kingdom. Literature, with its channels and genres, has been developing since the beginning of time. The theatrical, performing and rhetorical arts are examples of this development.
“We aim to keep pace with this development by utilizing digital resources to make literature readily accessible”,
Mohammed Hasan Alwan said.