Dubai: Picture this – it is a calm, rainy evening, and you have decided to settle indoors with your favourite book.
From the modest library at school, to those of the future with book espresso machines, most provide their readers with the opportunity to sign up as members. This opens doors to exclusive services such as their premium online library, or more importantly, longer borrowing periods. In the UAE, book lovers have over 200 library locations to choose from.
Here is a list of all the libraries across the UAE that you can sign up for, regardless of the weather.
UAE’s Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development (MCKD)
Starting off, the MCKD operates the following public libraries across the UAE, which are accessible to both citizens and residents. These are located within their respective cultural centres, which host several culture and art related events, and can be contacted via their hotline 800-552255. Resources are available in both Arabic and English.
Residents must provide a UAE residence visa that has been valid for at least one year before they can enjoy all services as a member.
Lifetime membership cost
• Children: Dh50
• Individuals: Dh100
• Families: Dh250
There are no renewal costs after the membership fee is paid the first time. This guarantees lifetime membership across all MCKD libraries.
The library membership application form requires you to upload a copy of your Emirates ID, and in the case of children (ages 12-18), their parents’ Emirates ID. It must be accompanied with a valid copy of your residence visa.
The online registration form can be found here: https://www.mckd.gov.ae/en/services/library-membership/
MCKD library locations:
Abu Dhabi Public Library
Location: National Theatre Building, 12th Street, Al Ethihad
Umm Al Quwain Public Library
Dibba Al Fujairah Public Library
Location: Dibba Al Fujairah
Dalma Public Library
Location: Dalma Island, Abu Dhabi
Ras-al-Khaimah Public Library
Ajman Public Library
Al Fujairah Public Library
Madinat Zayed Public Library
Location: Al Gharbia
Masafi Public Library
Location: E88, Masafi
Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism Libraries
Dar Al Kutub’s Library Management department is responsible for the public libraries listed below. Dar Al Kutub, which falls under the Department of Culture and Tourism, was established to preserve Arab and Islamic manuscripts on subjects such as literature, religion, science, and the arts. Hence, books can be found on these particular subjects.
Only your Emirates ID is required, and for children (ages 15 and below), their parents’ Emirates ID.
Lifetime membership cost
• Adults: refundable deposit of Dh400
• Children: Free
This is a lifetime membership and is valid across all Dar Al Kutub libraries.
To apply for a membership card, fill in the online form here: www.library.dctabudhabi.ae. However, the refundable deposit must be paid in-person at any of the Dar Al Kutub branches.
Qasr Al Watan Library
The library has a collection of books related to science, arts, history, geography, and the social, economic and political development of the country. Official and historical documents from local and international sources can also be found, along with the UAE Constitution and laws. Resources are available in English and Arabic.
Al Bahia Library
With over 30,000 books, the library is best known for the Children’s Library.
Al Wathba Library
Carries over 35,000 publications in both Arabic and English.
Zayed Central Library
The largest public library in Al Ain. It boasts over 100,000 works, from books for all ages, to scientific journals, scholarly works, and other academic publications.
Al Marfa Library
The collection of 20,000 expands across a wide range of subjects, from children and adult books, to scholarly works for researchers and academicians. There is also a special collection on the oil and gas industry. Another detail of Al Marfa Library is that it has a section dedicated to religious and political books.
Khalifa Park Library
It presents a massive collection of general and specific books, including theses for Masters and Doctoral students.
Sharjah Public Libraries
In 1925, Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Former Ruler of Sharjah from 1924-1951, founded a private library in Al Hisn, Sharjah Fort. Fast forward to 2011, and His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the Sharjah Public Library on Cultural Square, as it is known today. The library has expanded to five branches within the emirate.
Passport-sized photo, and a copy of your Emirates ID.
• Special needs: Dh50
• Adults: Dh150
• Teens: Dh50
• Children (ages 12 and below): Dh50
• Family: Dh300
Smart membership (for access to online resources only): Dh25
You can apply for a membership at https://spl.gov.ae/en//home/4, or by visiting any of the five Sharjah Public Libraries.
Locations of Sharjah Public Libraries
Al Dhaid Public Library
Wadi Al Helo Public Library
Kalba Public Library
Khor Fakkan Public Library
Dibba Al Hisn Public Library
Dubai Public Libraries
There are eight Dubai Public Libraries, linked to one another via a computer system. Reading resources are available in both Arabic and English.
A copy of your valid Emirates ID card, and updated passport-sized photograph.
• Children: refundable deposit of Dh75
• Adults: refundable deposit of Dh150, membership fee of Dh50, additional knowledge fee of Dh20
• Refundable deposit of Dh200, membership fee of Dh50, additional knowledge fee of Dh20
The membership is valid for five years, and can be renewed. It can be used across all Dubai Public Library branches.
To apply for a membership, please visit: https://dubaiculture.gov.ae/en/eservices/dplservices/pages/Membership-in-Dubai-Public-Libraries.aspx
Dubai Public Library locations
Al Ras Public Library
Al Mankhool Public Library
Al Twar Public Library
Umm Suqeim Public Library
Al Safa Art and Design Library
Hor Al Anz Public Library
Al Rashidiya Public Library
Hatta Public Library
The Old Library
The Old Library is the oldest English language library in Dubai. Volunteers are in-charge of running it as a non-profit organisation, where an elected management committee monitors its operation. The board ensures all funds raised through subscription, book fines, and second-hand books go directly into covering operating costs and the cost of purchasing new books.
Available to all above the age of 18, as long as they have an appropriate photo ID, such as their Emirates ID or drivers’ licence.
Annual fee of Dh231
Membership can only be applied for in-person.