DUBAI: Safa Park is now home to a unique library and book club.
The Archive, which claims it is the region’s first specialised library for Middle Eastern and North African Art Literature, offers residents a ‘non-commercial’ space in the park’s serene greens to read, do project work or take part in a range of other activities.
Sarah Malki, Manager and Librarian, said: “We have a lot going on here – book clubs, design talks, urban art workshops, yoga classes, pilates, even outdoor film screenings and musical performances. We have 700 books – the number will eventually go up to 2,500 – in various languages like English, Arabic, Turkish, French and Farsi.”
She said entry to The Archive does not entail any membership. It is free and open to all.
Located just inside Gate 5, its lush-green setting has already drawn over 400 people since its launch last month. It has a capacity of 120 seats with tables both inside and outside. And of course, the workshops and outdoor activities take place on the lawns. There’s an espresso bar and café as well.
“We’re just loving it here,” Reem Al Hashimi, a PhD student in urban planning and design who was with her lawyer friend Jana Salloum. “The books are really good. We will definitely come back for book reading, pilates and yoga.”
The greenery all around is what sets The Archive apart – and perfect for those looking for a new reading experience. Kerry, an educationist, said: “I love the openness and the greenery all around. The sense of space makes such a difference in Dubai.”
Another visitor, Vivian Tabar, said: “It’s my second time here and I like the fact that this is inside a park. I am into arts and photography and there’s a lot to do here.”
The Archive, sponsored by the Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives, is a continuation of the community service programmes adopted by the company since the early efforts of Shaikh Abdul Latif Jameel of Saudi Arabia, said Malki.
Other initiatives include the Islamic arm of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Jameel Prize, an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition, she added.