NAT 160423 Book Day-Students handing over books to, Zarrar Khan Pakistani actor, Maha Founder of Kitaabie and Assad Malik Pakistani actor Photo Arshad Ali/Gulf News Image Credit:

Dubai: With a mission of equipping libraries in Pakistan and helping supply books to students in the country’s rural areas, a number of expats have organised a book drive, which began on Saturday and is due to continue all week at the American College of Dubai.

Donations came rolling in throughout the first day of the drive at the college’s Student Union Hall.

The drive, held under the theme ‘donate a book, create a future’ was overseen by members of the college’s student council.

The initiative, named Kitaabie, was conceptualised in January by Maha Khan, who has been working as a teacher for more than 20 years.

“My mother also worked as a teacher and, consequently, we owned hundreds of books that we didn’t want to throw out. So the best thing we could do was donate them,” she said, adding that she decided to start her own project to help underprivileged students back in Pakistan.

Khan said she decided to name the project Kitaabie as the word had a “sweet meaning in both Arabic and Urdu”.

All the collected books will be fitted with a ‘Not for sale or profit’ sticker featuring Kitaabie’s quill logo above.

The books will be sent to Pakistan by TCS Express, where it will be received by the Kitaabie group stationed in Islamabad.

“We’ve been donated a space at a women’s empowerment centre in Islamabad,” Khan said, adding that the facility is located in a commercial zone with a lot of schools nearby.

“We hope to collect books from the students at those schools at the end of each academic year,” she said, “otherwise they’ll likely be dumped or forgotten. Through Kitaabie, we could send them to schools and universities in the rural areas.”

Two surprise guests made an appearance during Saturday’s drive, Pakistani actors Asad Malik and Zarrar Khan.

“I didn’t advertise their appearance as we didn’t want a throng of people needlessly collecting here,” Khan said. “They both came for personal reasons and to show their support.”

Nidhi Pattni, deputy head of the student council at the college, said the donations were coming in. “Hundreds of books have already been donated to Kitaabie,” she said. “Students, teachers and community members have been coming to show their support throughout the opening day.”

The book drive will carry on all week at the American College of Dubai, Al Garhoud.