Book swap
Book Hero holds book swaps for school and university students in the UAE Image Credit: Supplied

As UAE students return to school, a Dubai-based bookstore is continuing to give much-needed support to those who are struggling financially especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Book Hero’s Oasis Mall branch in Dubai is holding daily book swaps that give students access to reading materials for a minimal cost or for free.

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It’s simple – all the books at the community driven initiative are ready to be swapped for old ones for free, and if you don’t have one to give in return, they are sold at a nominal price of Dh10 and Dh20.

While the book swap is open all year round in the branch’s basement, currently it is also being carried out in the mall’s atrium.

“We started again on July 26 and planned to have it till August 29 but the overwhelming response made us extend it for a month more, we are going to have it till September 26,” said the store’s cofounder Montserrat Martin.

During the back-to-school period, the bookstore is getting visitors from across the UAE.

“We are getting people from across the UAE, especially those who are not doing well financially. We get people driving all the way from Ajman and Umm Al Quwain,” said Martin.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the store is also seeing an increase in people ordering online.

“Some people are still hesitant to come so they are benefitting from our delivery services. We send them pictures and videos of the books through emails and WhatsApp, and deliver it to them,” she said.

Martin said that Book Hero is currently in the process of building a website.

The initiative aims to promote the right to education for everyone and decrease the number of books that are thrown out each year.

“Let's not waste books, just because they are a year or two years old another family can make use out of them,” said Martin.

According to Martin, who has been a UAE resident for over 19 years, the people who come for the book swaps oftentimes send them back home.

“People coming from low income backgrounds especially like to send them back home. This is great because it also promotes education in their respective countries. Now children who would be taken out of school as teenagers, are likely to continue [studying],” she said.

Martin also had an appeal for UAE residents as she hopes that the campaign can help more people.

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“I want to put it out there that people who know struggling families, based in the UAE and elsewhere, can contact us and we would be happy to provide them books completely free of cost. We are willing to ship internationally,” she said.

The Book Hero store that holds book swaps daily during the mall hours can be found at Oasis Mall, Dubai.

Martin can be contacted on