A general view of Chinese pavilion during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2017 at ADNEC. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: China is the Guest of Honour at this year’s Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) and one could experience that it has made its presence felt from the moment one enters the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) grounds, where the event is being held.

A giant wall of books is acting as a canvas for Chinese artist and teacher, Jack Lee, at Hall 11’s entrance, where the China Pavilion is located. He has chosen to paint the Great Wall of China on the stack of books and hopes to finish it by the end of the fair on May 2.

“I wanted to do something new. This is a great way to speak to people about China, using a brush,” said Lee, who lives in Abu Dhabi.

The impressive 650-square-metre grounds of the pavilion includes Chinese art, books, writers, publishers, traditional products and much more. It is divided into five parts and was the busiest space during the fair’s first day with no one leaving empty-handed as goodies, representing various aspects of Chinese culture, were presented to visitors.

Introducing Chinese culture and traditions to the people in the UAE is at the heart of the pavilion. There is plenty to see and do at almost every corner of this space. A group of women played traditional Chinese musical instruments in one corner while Chinese ornaments from clay were created in another. Visitors can learn about painting on rice paper using traditional Chinese embossing plates and then take their piece home, which is believed to bring good fortune.

A 2,000-metre roll of rice paper painted with Chinese art surrounded by items that represent ancient printed papers and material hope to introduce people to the history of printing.

“We used the latest technology in injection printing to produce this (2,000-metre) roll. We hope this can show people not just our capability in printing but also an aspect of Chinese culture,” said Pod Gua, general manager, CNPIEC Digital Printing.

Kenny Ding, marketing director at another printing company, JKL United Printing, echoed Gua’s hopes for introducing Chinese culture to the UAE while adding that they hoped they could also connect with publishing industry leaders in the UAE and the region.

The pavilion presents over 3,500 titles and 5,400 copies, with 300 titles translated into Arabic and Chinese, which aim to showcase what has been achieved in cultural exchange and publishing cooperation between China and the Arab world. One such book is China Character, which was launched in Abu Dhabi, in Arabic and Chinese, today by Xin Hua Publishing Company, one of China’s largest publishers. The book introduces Chinese mannerisms and traditions in an effort to provide a better understanding of the culture and eliminate misunderstandings.

Five of China’s best-known writers — Cao Wenxuan (author of The Grass House), Liu Zhenyun (author of Cell Phone and One Sentence Worth Ten Thousand), Yu Hua (author of To Live), Mai Jia (author of Decoded), and Xu Zechen (author of Running Through Zhongguancun) — are also participating in cultural activities during the exhibition.