Dubai: A high-level delegation from the UAE National Library and Archives recently visited the United Kingdom to gain insights into leading libraries, archive activities and related best practices as the UAE continues its emergence as the region’s educational, intellectual and cultural hub.
The UAE delegation was led by Abdulla Majid Al Ali, acting director general of the UAE National Library and Archives. Also part of the group were: Omar Al Kaabi, director of the Chairman’s Office at National Library and Archives of UAE; Farhan Al Marzouqi, director of the Corporate and Community Outreach Department at National Library and Archives of UAE; and Faisal Al Hammadi, facilities maintenance engineer at the National Library and Archives of UAE.
Delegates toured the Cadbury Research Library, the unique Mingana Collection of Arabic manuscripts, and viewed the world-renowned Birmingham Quran. They also toured Birmingham City Council’s iconic Library of Birmingham, where they met Professor Ewan Fernie from the University’s Shakespeare Institute who hosted them in the Library’s Shakespeare Room where they learned about the Everything to Everybody project.
The Library of Birmingham is home to the city’s vast archive of regional, national and Shakespeare-related material. The Shakespeare material features in Everything to Everybody — a community engagement partnership with Birmingham City Council. This connects Birmingham citizens to the archive. They also visited The Exchange, the University of Birmingham’s city centre community engagement hub.
‘Incubating human heritage’
Al Ali said: “The National Archives and Library aspire to establish an Emirati national library that will be a national reference and a cultural and information centre that preserves the heritage of the UAE and highlights its scientific and civilized development, similar to the major global libraries that incubate human heritage. In it, one of our priorities was to visit major libraries in the United Kingdom because of their global standing.”
Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor and principal professor welcomed both delegations to the University of Birmingham, commenting: “We have a wealth of expertise at the University of Birmingham in providing facilities that support and broaden the sharing of knowledge. I am delighted to welcome our distinguished guests from the National Library and Archives of UAE, so that we can support the UAE’s vision for developing its libraries and archives as well as other cultural assets and activities.”
Birmingham’s University Library is one of the largest academic libraries in the UK with an outstanding research collection of 2.7 million books and scholarly periodicals, more than 16,000 electronic resources and over 4.7 million manuscripts.
Diane Job, the director of Library Services, said: “I was delighted to guide our distinguished guests around the university’s Main Library and the Cadbury Research Library, which is home to our special collections. The university’s libraries are an important academic and research resource in the UK.”