Abu Dhabi – Two more public libraries will be opened in the capital this year by the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City in a bid to encourage residents to develop the reading habit.

One will be located at Al Wathba Park in the capital’s Al Wathba suburb, and another at the Corniche beach.

The announcement, made by the Municipality in a statement sent on Sunday, follows the inauguration of three public libraries over the past two years by the authority.

In its statement, the Municipality said that it was seeking to capitalise on public parks as a venue for public libraries, and thus also promote reading as a lifestyle choice among children. The libraries also seek to support the Arab Reading Challenge, which was announced by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai last September. It aims to inspire students in the Arab world to read, and more than a million schoolchildren have so far committed to reading 50 million extracurricular books between them each year.

The existing Municipality libraries at Khalifa Park, Bahia Park and Abu Dhabi Corniche’s family beach section are stocked with books on Emirati history and heritage, as well as autobiographies, fiction, children’s books and reference tomes. They also offer WiFi access to visitors. In addition, the Corniche beach facility includes a few desktop computers and tablets.

According to the Municipality, the three locations saw more than 70 events being organised between January and August 2015, and received more than 8,000 visitors. They are operated in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and the UAE Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development.

Authorities expect greater interest in the libraries this year, especially as 2016 has been declared by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the Year of Reading in the UAE.

To borrow a book, residents need to pay a Dh400 deposit, and present one passport-size photo along with their Emirates IDs, or a copy of their passports and valid residency visas. Following the registration, members can borrow up to three books, and must either return them within three weeks or extend the borrowing period for an additional three weeks.