'This is what it's like to be surrounded by a million books': Region's biggest libary welcomes first visitors

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Libary in Dubai boasts 1.1 million books in 30 languages

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Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Thu 16 Jun 2022, 11:27 AM

Last updated: Thu 16 Jun 2022, 12:48 PM

"So, this is what it is like to be surrounded by a million books," said Filipino expat Elizabeth, who was among the first visitors to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library (MBRL) that opened on Thursday, June 16.

Elizabeth was at the library premises around 8am — an hour before the lectern-shaped library opened its doors to the world for the first time. With 1.1 million books in 30 languages spread over 54,000sqm on seven floors and nine libraries, there is something for everyone there.

"I have never had this chance before and I am so excited to be here," she said. "I have waited forever for this library to open. Even today, I have been loitering around the area since 8am waiting for it to open up."

She was particularly glad to see the sensory pod inside the information centre.

"My son is autistic," she said. "I am always looking for experiences and opportunities for him to learn. I am certain he will enjoy this library, especially with the sensory pod. This is what I love about Dubai- how considerate they are of people of determination."

Elizabeth was among the several visitors to the library looking to get the first-day experience.

Three generations from one family were seen reading together in the children's library. American Sarah De Fonseka was visiting with her 76-year-old mother Lynne Marson and her five-year-old daughter Ella.

"We are avid readers," said Sarah. "We have been waiting for this library to open for a long time. When my mom moved to Dubai 5 years ago, the first thing we did was visit all the libraries. We love everything books."

"It is really like a dream come true," said Sarah, who had left her two-year-old at home. Children under five are not allowed into the library.

"I can understand why they have the rule. For the young ones, it is a playground. They are not old enough to understand and respect books."

The children's library has over 17,000 board books, picture books and stories. With kid-friendly furniture, a playground and teepee tents, it is one of the most colourful sections within the MBRL.

Indian expat Mohammed Jiyad took some time off work to visit MBRL.

"I have always liked to read," he said. "So when I heard the library opened, I wanted to visit. I have looked at all the libraries. The selection of books is really impressive. And it is so quiet and calm. I think I will keep coming back."

As we sat at the library, several people trooped in. Some were students who had been brought on a field trip while others were there with their families.

Students Saleha and Halima were looking at an Art and Vinyl book in the Media and Art library.

"I love vinyl covers," Halima said. "And this book has some really cool collections."

The youngsters, who have just finished their IGCSE exams, were checking out the library to decide if they wanted to take a membership.

"I love the atmosphere of a library," said Saleha. "I love books and I love reading. So far we love what we have seen. I think I'll take the membership when they offer it. We can come by metro whenever we want."

The Dubai-born and raised Pakistani nationals then proceeded to cosy up and read.

Siblings Rahila and Adil live close by and wanted to check out the coolest offering in the neighbourhood.

"I want to check out what kind of books are here," said Rahila, a psychology student at Middlesex University. "It would be nice to come and study here."

Adil is majoring in computer science at Herriot Watt University.


"I think it would be great when we have to do research projects to have a library close by."

The library has an entire floor dedicated to study rooms that can be booked for free on the app or website. In addition to this, there are partially enclosed study areas for single and group studies.

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