In a large courtyard in Doha's cultural village of Katara, long tables are covered with different books as part of a new initiative to promote reading.
The Dar al-Sharq publishing house and the Katara Cultural Village launched the "Book4Book" exchange on July 21st that encourages book lovers to trade texts they finished in return for new reading material.
The project continues throughout the holy month of Ramadan on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Qatar's Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari said the initiative will enrich citizens' knowledge and promote a culture of reading among the population.
"In light of the on-going digital revolution, there is more of an urgent need for reading because it is the gateway to science and knowledge," al-Kuwari said at the exhibition's opening. "No nation can be a part of this age without being educated and cultured, so reading becomes a passport to the future."
Vice president of publication house Dar al-Sharq, Ibrahim al-Sayid, said, "This project is an ideal opportunity to promote knowledge in the most inexpensive way possible for book lovers and students of knowledge."
"This experience resonated with different segments of Qatari society, and there is serious discussion about continuing the display after Ramadan," he said.
This exhibition, a first in Qatar, attracted a lot of visitors, including Qataris and expatriates who are fond of reading.
"It is a great idea," said Hayam al-Mari, an engineer. "I was in France three years ago when I came across a similar idea and hoped that it could be duplicated in Qatar."
Al-Mari added, "The exhibition has given people from different segments of society a chance to read and acquire knowledge because books are expensive and not affordable for everyone."
Al-Mari said closing the exhibition four days a week "is a bad idea".
Other attendees said participants should bring the best books that they can offer.
"Some people come here in the hope of getting a good book in return for one of their books, which they think is not that good," said school teacher Hussa al-Anzi, who praised the book exchange initiative.
She said she hopes people would "exchange the best of their books for the best of other people's books".
Ghaith bin Mohamed al-Badir, an employee in the telecommunications sector, said, "This initiative has to be backed by the government and should not be limited to individual efforts."
"The majority of books on display are in the humanities, literature, culture and religion, while science books are almost absent," al-Badir said. "The reason for this is that most books on display are owned by private citizens."
"I would have hoped that scientific and cultural foundations and institutions would participate and display science books," al-Badir said.
Despite the shortcomings, he said he was optimistic the project will offer greater opportunities among the community of book lovers.