Hoping to revive a reading culture in Qatar – and break down stereotypes along the way – a French-Qatari couple are launching a nationwide book club on Sept. 28 that is open to all.
The Qatar Book Club (QBC) will convene from 6pm to 9pm in Building 5 of Katara Cultural Village, the site of the Katara Art Center.
Co-founder Iman Al Doubali, a French expat, told Doha News that the idea for the book club came from her Qatari husband’s recent experiences during military conscription. She said:
“We began forming the club in July, just after my husband came back from the military. There, he realized that reading is an unpopular activity among young Qataris. We decided we want to get people back to reading and bring people together around a common activity.”
In Qatar, most book clubs are run and attended by expats and are held among small social circles at people’s homes.
But QBC’s vision is to encourage both expats and locals to engage in reading while providing a venue for those looking to meet new people and socialize. Al Doubali said:
“Through providing reading as a tool of communication, we want to break the ice among expats and locals. We have had a huge response from the community and locals have shown an interest too. Although there has been more interest from expats, we are very happy with the positive, local response.”
The club is also talking to several organizations, including Qatar Foundation, the Qatar National Library (QNL) and Katara Art Center (KAC), to help facilitate its mission.
Collaborations to host events and book exchange booths at the venues are underway, with QNL showing particular enthusiasm to collaborate once it opens next year, Al Doubali said.
So far, the club has set-up one book booth at the newly launched entrepreneurial hub 7ayak Hub for people to donate and exchange books. Book donations are also welcomed during QBC’s opening meeting at KAC.
In addition to meeting to talk about books, QBC plans to hold movie screenings based on book adaptations, creative workshops based on the infusion of art and literature, writing competitions and eventually open a library and hold workshops for children.
During this month’s launch, attendees are encouraged to express their ideas and book preferences. Those interested will be provided with further information as well as the opportunity to become a member.
The club is not funded and will operate on membership fees and donations. Membership costs QR150 a year and includes access to all book sessions and workshops. The payments will cover the cost of catering as well as workshop and book expenditures.
Those who are not members are still entitled to all events, but must pay for each separately. Each book session costs QR30 and each workshop will cost between QR50 and QR70, depending on the activity.
To attend next week’s activity, attendees are advised to register for the event online due to limited space.
Speaking of the first book club session, Al Doubali told Doha News:
“We are thinking that the first session will focus on books from the region that deal with daily life issues between expats and locals, as this is also a topic we are trying to work on through our club.”
Do you plan to join? Thoughts?