Sharjah: The House of Wisdom in Sharjah was conceptualised and purpose-built to transcend and transform the idea of a library.
Yes, it is a sanctuary for books – over 105,000 and counting – of course, but it also harbours an ambitious mandate to serve as a conduit between civilisations, cultures and the exchange of ideas.
His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the library, located near University City, in December 2020. It was commissioned as part of celebrations of Sharjah’s yearlong tenure as UNESCO World Book Capital 2019. As such, its North Garden is home to ‘The Scroll’ monument, designed by UK artist Gerry Judah, which pays tribute to Sharjah’s World Book Capital title.
Emirati researcher Nasser Akram, who is a regular patron at the House of Wisdom, recently presented a tour of the iconic structure and its varied attractions.
Since its launch, the two-storey facility has hosted events and conferences fostering art, culture and education, and will continue to play a pivotal role as a centre for cultural exchange, reading and research.
Inspired by the past, focused on the future
The iconic landmark (inspired by the original House of Wisdom in Baghdad of the 8th century) has another focus – innovation and creativity. It houses the Al Jazri digital fabrication lab with 3D printers to build prototypes of experimental projects. There’s even a ‘Book espresso machine’ which prints and binds books on demand in minutes, along with a digital self-service station.
Boasting outdoor and indoor green areas, pools and fountains, and dedicated spaces for women, as well as for children (Little Reader), the House of Wisdom, which extends over 12,000 square meters, is akin to a retreat to replenish the mind, where readers can enjoy a book while relaxing in suspended pods.
For networking, meetings and events, there are multipurpose spaces including Al Rasheed Hall, Al Ma’moun Exhibition and Al Khawarizmi Exhibition.