Mohammed bin Rashid Library, has opened in Dubai. The architectural marvel , constructed in the shape of a bookstand spans more than 54,000 square metres, with seven floors and nine thematic libraries.
The Dh1 billion venue, which took six years to build, was officially inaugurated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, on Monday, and aims to be a cultural centre, joining Sharjah’s House of Wisdom in paving the way for libraries of the future.
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the UAE’s newest cultural landmark.
Where is the library located?
It’s in Al Jaddaf, by the Dubai Creek, offering spectacular views of the waterway.
Do I need a ticket to enter or is there an entry fee?
As with most conventional libraries, there is no need to buy a ticket to enter. There is no entry fee required.
However, it is recommended to download the library app and reserve your time slots online.
Are children allowed in?
Children under 5 are not allowed to enter, but those aged 5 and over are welcome and there is even a dedicated library only for them, with an indoor slide.
This includes a generously sized section dedicated to blind children with books published in braille. A sensory pod is also available to accommodate those with autism.
Can I buy a membership?
Yes, there will be a paid membership scheme in place that allows UAE residents to borrow books for varying lengths of time.
What are the library’s opening hours?
The library will be open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 9pm and is closed on Sundays.
Is there free parking?
Yes, there is a nine-storey underground parking area with free car parking, including spots for electric vehicles.
Can I get there by public transport?
Al Jaddaf Metro station is the nearest and a shaded walking path is being built to allow direct access to the library.
You can also go via Dubai Bus route C04, which stops at the Creek Metro Station.
What’s inside the library?
There are nine thematic libraries within the space. Library content becomes increasingly specialised as you go up the seven levels, while the ground floor is home to three libraries filled with the most accessible content.
There is a General Library, an Emirates Library, one for children and another for young adults, others focusing on business titles, periodicals, maps and atlases, and another that centres on media and the arts, which is home to expansive collections of Arabic newspapers and magazines spanning the mid-20th century.
There’s also a private collections library, but visitors need special permission to access this area.
This is in addition to an indoor and outdoor amphitheatre, a literary museum, a conference centre, a two-storey cafe and a gift shop.
And, that’s only the opening phase: on the horizon are electronic gaming lounges, a monthly programme of author events and a ferry service from Dubai Festival City to the venue for select sessions of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.
What is the Treasures of the Library exhibition?
The Treasures of the Library section is on the seventh floor. It is a museum with hundreds of encased works; the collection has rare books, manuscripts and documents dating back to the 13th century. These include old copies of the Quran and a first edition of Miguel de Cervantes’s 17th-century epic novel Don Quixote.
Also on hand is a first edition of Description de L’Egypte, a series of publications, appearing first in 1809, cataloguing various aspects of ancient and modern Egypt, written by scholars and academics who accompanied Napoleon Bonaparte on his expedition to the country in 1798.
“Collecting these works took two years,” board director Jamal Al Shehhi told The National during a preview of the library. “We had teams going around the world searching for them and even acquiring them at charity auctions. We were determined to get the best titles that we can find.”
How many books are there?
According to Al Shehhi, there are more than one million physical and digital titles spanning 30 languages, and the library continues to build its catalogue.
The general library boasts more than 100,000 titles and is the place to seek popular novels and non-fiction titles.
How do I find books?
All the books are organised numerically, rather than alphabetically and in genre, but it is recommended to search online for the availability of your preferred book in order to know exactly where to find it.
“We operate by name of the titles as opposed to language,” Al Shehhi said. “When we acquire books, we not only get multiple copies but also in as many languages as we can.”
Books are delivered to various points around the library via monorail.
Can I work from the library?
There are dozens of couches, reading desks and workstations.
A smart scanner even allows students to scan portions of books or resources and email it to themselves.
Is there anything else there?
Outside, there is the Garden of Quotes, featuring pillars with more than 60 of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s quotes written in a variety of languages from Arabic and English to Bosnian, Korean, Urdu and even Amharic.
What else has the library got planned?
Beginning next month, Library Talks is a series of monthly events featuring bestselling authors from the region and beyond discussing their works.
More information is available at www.mbrl.ae