Dubai is known around the world as a glitzy, glorious Centre of capitalist excess, with towering skyscrapers, luxury hotels, and glittering shopping malls among its many wonders.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, which opened in June, is a beautiful oasis of calm contemplation where visitors can curl up with a good book, plug in laptops for study or work, or marvel at the rare manuscripts and first-edition books displayed in the exhibition space on the seventh floor.
Locals and tourists alike can enter for free, with tickets only needing to be reserved in advance.
The new library, which joins the pantheon of world-class book repositories such as London’s British Library and Egypt’s Bibliotheca Alexandrina, still has a Dubai-sized price tag, reportedly costing one billion dirhams, or $272 million.
It is named after Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who announced the new library’s construction in 2016.
With over 1.1 million print and digital books housed in the 54,000 square-meter facility, it hopes to attract visitors who value culture over consumption.
The dramatic building looks like an open book but is actually inspired by a rehl book rest used to hold the Holy Quran and is located on Dubai Creek in Al Jaddaf, just next to the shipyards where artisans have been handcrafting traditional wooden dhows for decades.
The facility houses nine separate libraries dedicated to everything from media and the arts to business titles, international periodicals, maps and atlases, books for children and young adults, and a collection of priceless archival treasures.
The collection of works is still being built, but it already has a large number of works.
Visitors can access more than six million dissertations, 73,000 musical scores, 75,000 videos, 35,000 printed and digital international journals, and over 5,000 historical periodicals spanning 325 years, in addition to its multilingual print and digital books.
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