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Free book swap drive fosters a community

Al Ain expat’s initiative helps 7,000 titles exchange hands, forge friendships

  • Amro Abu Kuhail delivers books under Kitabalik free of cost within Al AinImage Credit: Supplied
  • Amro Abu Kuhail with his collection of booksImage Credit: Supplied

Al Ain: Amro Abu Kuhail, a Jordanian expat in Al Ain, is an avid reader. But everytime he finishes a book, he wants others to read it also. The result: he has started a unique book exchange initiative called Kitabilak.

“Kitabilak means ‘My book for you’ in Arabic,” says Kuhail. “I often felt it was a big waste to let my books just lie around in my home library. So I would post them on Instagram for anyone to take them for free. Soon, people started asking me for books. They also donated titles. The idea soon caught on. Today, more than 7,000 books have exchanged hands through the initiative.”

Kuhail, who works as an event manager at the Environment Friends Society, even delivers the books for free. “People can take as many books as they want and pass them on to others or give them back to me. The books are delivered free within Al Ain. But if anyone outside the city wants the books, they have to pay the courier charges,” he said.

 I often felt it was a big waste to let my books just lie around in my home library.”

 - Amro Abu Kuhail, Kitabalik

Over the years, the book requests have spread to Abu Dhabi and even beyond. “There’s a dear old lady in Hatta who keeps a lookout for my book posts,” said Kuhail who has 5,482 followers on Instagram.

It takes a few hours every week for him to sort the books under different categories. Delivery routes are then planned accordingly. “Sometimes my friends Mohammad Labloushi and Mohammad Al Jesmi help me with the deliveries. Books that are in bad condition are given to the Environment Friends Society for recycling,” he added.

Kuhail said he has donated many books to school libraries and government organisations, including the Jahili School and Zayed National Museum in Al Ain. He reads an average of two books a week and his favourite genres are history and life coaching. “Even though it is time- consuming to sort and deliver books, I am still at it because reading builds a community. For me personally, it has developed my personality and helped me make more friends. I wish more people would start similar initiatives by using the power of the social media.”


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