Garden of Quotes, children's area: First look inside Dubai's Mohammed Bin Rashid Library

The beautiful building has everything from sensory pods to rare manuscripts

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By Nasreen Abdulla; Visuals by M Sajjad

Published: Wed 15 Jun 2022, 6:53 PM

Last updated: Fri 17 Jun 2022, 11:33 AM

The lectern-shaped Mohammed bin Rashid Library (MBRL) on the Dubai Creek bank is arguably one of the most beautiful and technologically advanced libraries in the region. Inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the MBRL is much more than just a library.

“You are about to enter a world of imagination,” said Jamal Al Shehhi, board member of MBRL, as he guided the media tour through the library. “You are at the Mecca of content. We have something for everyone here.”

With tall ceilings, a lot of natural light and wooden panelling, the insides of the library look welcoming. On either side of the reception, are huge bookshelves stacked with over 17 rows of books in all sizes, shapes, and colours. In the centre of it, right above the auditorium is the largest indoor screen in the UAE that lights up with facts about the library. With over 1.1 million books and 6 million digital assets, this was truly a Mecca of content.

Here are some interesting facts about the library:

Treasures of the library

One of the first stops of the media tour was the Treasures of the Library on the 7th floor. At the entrance to this section is displayed a rare first edition of the Astronomicum Caesaraum (The Emperor’s Astronomy) by Petrus Apian, one of the foremost astronomers of the 16th century. The copy dedicated to Emperor Charles V and his brother Ferdinand of Aragon is composed of 36 wood-cut astronomical figures.

This is just the beginning of what else awaits a visitor in this section. From rare copies of the Holy Quran to one of the most expensive pen cases (that cost the MBRL Dh 5 million to procure) to the first issue of William Shakespeare’s 1632 book Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, there are some of the rarest of rare books and artifacts in this section.

“Our team spent four years travelling to all parts of the world to procure these,” said Jamal Al Shehhi. “From Christie's to other auction houses to the farthest corners of the planet, we have visited and re-visited places to make sure we have this fine collection that you see here.”

Children’s library

In the day and age of smartphones and tablets, it is difficult to get young children to read. However, MBRL has just made it easier for mums and dads to get their young ones into a library and reading.

With colourful carpets, teepee tents and a play area complete with slides and other fun things, the children’s library area is one of the most exciting parts of the MBRL.

The section houses 17,000 titles ranging from board books, interactive books and stories in both Arabic and English. The books are displayed at a lower eye level for easy access for children.

The information centre

With periodicals, encyclopedias and factual books, the information centre is one of the two sections in the MBRL where books cannot be borrowed. However, what sets this section apart is how it has made it easier for people of determination to navigate it.

One rack is dedicated to encyclopedias in Braille. This makes it easier for people with visual impairment to read and research.

There is also a sensory pod in this section for those in the autism spectrum. Completely enclosed with a sliding door, this pod has AC, a bed and a screen inside. It will allow anyone suffering from an overload of stimulus to relax inside.

Read, watch, learn, study

MBRL caters to students of all ages. There are six study rooms which can be used for group projects or combined study purposes. In addition to that there are tables with mobile and laptop charging ports.

In the media library, there is a gaming lounge where visitors will be able to watch a movie or documentary in a four-seater enclosure. There is also a smart scanner which allows students to scan parts of books and resources they want that they can then email it to themselves.

If group projects and study are not your thing, and all you are looking for is a book and some solitude, MBRL has that too. Cozy single seats with a good view allow visitors to relax and read a book of their choice.

Apart from reading material, MBRL also has a theater which will host movie nights in the future.

Garden of Quotes

“Determination, strategy and vision for the future are our real resources in the quest for excellence and success.”

This is from one of the pillars of the colourful display at the Garden of Quotes. Located outside the library, these pillars feature more than 60 of Sheikh Mohammed’s most profound quotes.

Reflecting the true multiculturalism of the UAE, these quotes are written in a variety of different languages including English, Arabic, Spanish, Burmese, Bosnian, Korean, Urdu, Gaelic (Irish) and Amharic.


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