Dubai to build Dh1 billion library shaped like a book

New cultural centre to open in 2017 at Al Jaddaf

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  • Shaikh Mohammad at a ceremony to unveil the Mohammad Bin Rashid Library on Monday.Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News
Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai will build a Dh1 billion library which will house millions of books and will be the largest cultural centre in the region, it was announced on Monday.

The Mohammad Bin Rashid Library will benefit 42 million people around the world and will be designed in the shape of an open book. It will open in 2017 and will be the largest cultural centre in the region, with an investment of approximately Dh1 billion.

Unveiling the project, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said the Arab world is facing a learning gap, which shows the need for projects the size of this historic cultural challenge.

“We are the leaders of civilisation, duty and culture, and so we need to revive the spirit of learning and curiosity within our culture through innovative initiatives that push our boundaries. This is why we decided to start the Year of Reading by launching this state-of-the-art library and to let everyone know that we will transform the UAE into an Arab and global cultural and learning centre while strongly establishing reading as a societal norm. We want a dynamic library which will reach you before you reach it, visit you before you visit it, and which encourages you to start reading from childhood, while supporting you as a scientist, researcher or specialist, when older. The library will be a compound for books, a community for readers and writers, and an association for content, culture and thought owners,” he said.

Located in Al Jaddaf, in the heart of Dubai and close to Dubai Culture Village, the seven-storey, one million square foot facility will house more than 4.5 million books, including 1.5 million printed books, two million electronic books and one million audio books.

The library will also have several areas for interaction, events, activities as well as educational and cultural festivals.

There will also be venues for arts and literary exhibitions, heritage preservation initiatives and a 500-seat theatre for lectures, seminars and presentations on best practices. The library will also serve as a platform for hosting and launching the most significant intellectual and cultural initiatives regionally and globally.

“The human mind is the centre of development and the book is the tool used to renew the mind. A nation can never grow without a renewed mind and a lively, knowledgeable spirit,” he added.

The Mohammad Bin Rashid Library goes beyond the limits of a typical public library and acts as the centre of cultural initiatives, such as the Dh2.4 million ‘Arabic Language Award’, launched by Shaikh Mohammad to help people embrace their Arab identity.

The library will also have a museum to celebrate heritage and the history of human civilisation, in addition to being the largest book warehouse in the region, welcoming students, authors, translators, scholars and academics who share a passion for knowledge and wisdom.

The museum will act as a specialised centre for the conservation and restoration of historical manuscripts. It will also display rare artefacts from the Al Maktoum family collection

Equipped with 2,600 seats and the most advanced technologies and smart applications, it is expected to receive nine million visitors annually.

The library is based on six pillars: the first is the main library, which includes eight specialised libraries: for Children, Youth, Family, Business, Arabic, International, Popular and Multimedia.

The second pillar is spreading content; the library will include an e-library with over two million titles, and one million audio books. The library will also print and distribute 10 million books in the next few years, which will be distributed to people in need.

The third pillar will focus on supporting authoring and translation, through its initiative, which aims to translate 25,000 titles into Arabic.

The fourth pillar will focus on protecting the Arabic language. This will be done by hosting the main headquarters of The International Council for the Arabic Language and publishing the Mohammad Bin Rashid Contemporary Arabic Language Dictionary.

The fifth pillar will include preserving cultural heritage, while the sixth aims at encouraging reading as it will be home to the Arab Reading Challenge which includes 2.5 million students from 20,000 schools within the Arab world. It will also host over 100 annual cultural events.

The library encapsulates the intellectual and cultural vision of Shaikh Mohammad, and reflects the crucial role of knowledge in fostering intellectual excellence, confronting regional challenges and paving the way for a new golden era for the Arab nation. “It’s our destiny as a region to be the centre of the world, and our destiny also is to be a convergence point of nations and a junction for all civilisations and cultures,” Shaikh Mohammad added.

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