Dubai has announced plans to open what will become the largest library in the Arab World in 2017.
At least 4.5 million books will be housed by the library, which is designed in the shape of an open book placed on an Arabic lectern.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Library expects a crowd of nine million people from across the world to arrive each year.
In addition to traditional print books, the library will be stocked with two million electronic books and one million audiobooks. Visitors can also expect to see a cinema and a gallery within the library, where lectures, presentations and documentary screenings will be held. The library is expected to host 100 cultural events, Gulf Business reports.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, who announced the launch, said, “We are the leaders of civilization, duty and culture, and so we need to revive the spirit of learning and curiosity within our culture through innovative initiatives that push our boundaries.” Trade Arabia reports the launch came during the United Arab Emirates’ Year of Reading.
Sheikh Mohammed launched the Arab Reading Challenge in September 2015 to encourage 2.5 million students from 20,000 schools in Arab countries to read more. This library will promote that initiative with the aim of encouraging reading, supporting translation and documentation and preserving Arabic heritage and language.
This follows a 2012 report from the Arab Thought Foundation stating that Arab children read only “six minutes a year.”
A museum section housing various artifacts from the royal Al Maktoum family will be on display. It will also have Internet services and open reading spaces.
The library will include eight sections: children, youth, family, business, Arabic, international, popular and multimedia.
Gulf Business reports that the library hopes to translate 25,000 books into Arabic and print an additional one million books for schools and universities.
Construction work has begun on the seven-story tall building, which will be built with enough room for 2,600 visitors, reported The National.
– Kaitlyn Arford