For the love of books: 7 libraries to check out in Dubai
When in doubt, go to the library…
It might be the digital age, but there’s nothing like curling up with a strong coffee and a good book in hand. Feeding our literary addiction by buying new ones all the time can be expensive, but, thankfully there are several libraries in Dubai – some are even hidden in galleries and museums across the city.
Here are seven libraries in Dubai where you can find your next page-turner.
1. Al Safa Art & Design Library
Newly refurbished, this library offers up books that cater to both adults and children, which can be enjoyed in its distraction-free minimalist interiors. In this chic library, you’ll find several artworks on display, and they also hold masterclasses. The library is free to use, but if you want to take the books home to read, you’ll need to become a member.
Al Safa Art & Design Library, behind Safa Park, Dubai, Sat to Thur 8am to 8pm, Fri closed, Dhs150 membership fee for one person, Dhs220 membership fee for a family. Tel: (04) 515 5241. linktr.ee/dubaipubliclibraries
2. The Old Library
This 50-year-old library is home to about 25,000 books and is run by a strong community of volunteers. The library is non-profit and funds itself via subscription fees and secondhand book sales. The library has a very interesting history, which you can read about here. The range here includes popular novels, biographies, non-fiction and children’s literature. Since it’s not a public library, you’ll need to be a member, which costs Dhs200 for the year.
The Old Library, Gold & Diamond Park, Building 7, Dubai, Sat to Thur, 10am to 6pm, Fri closed. Dhs200. Tel: (04) 321 3939. theoldlibrary.ae
3. Etihad Museum
The Etihad Museum is located next to Union House, where the signing of the treaty establishing the UAE took place in 1971. Its library is home to more than 3,000 books focusing on the politics, social fabric and history of the UAE, which you can read in the calm and relaxed atmosphere. There are also a variety of magazines, booklets, CDs and other educational items related to the UAE. You won’t be able to take the books home, and to gain access you’ll need to purchase a museum ticket, which costs Dhs25 for adults and Dhs12 for students (five to 24 years of age). Before visiting, call ahead to ensure the museum isn’t closed for a private event.
Etihad Museum, Union House, 2nd December Street, Jumeira, Dubai, 10am to 8pm daily, Dhs25 adults, Dhs12 students ages 5 to 24, Tel: (04) 515 5771 etihadmuseum.dubaiculture.gov.ae
4. Jameel Art Centre
The Jameel Library is an in-house library located on the ground floor of the Jameel Art Centre. It has a wide range of bilingual books in Arabic and English, plus journals and catalogues dedicated to cultural histories of the Gulf and the region. The library also hosts several talks, research projects and reading groups led by experts in the region.
Jameel Arts Centre, Jaddaf Waterfront, opposite Palazzo Versace, Dubai, Sat to Thur 10am to 8pm, Fri 12pm to 10pm, Tues closed, Tel: (04) 873 9800 jameelartscentre.org
5. Beach Library
Nothing beats heading down to the beach with a good book to keep you company. If you’ve forgotten to carry one, however, don’t worry. Just look out for your nearest Beach Library, packed with books you can read for absolutely no charge. An initiative by Dubai Municipality, the concept can be found at several public beaches around Dubai, including Umm Suqeim 1, Al Mamzar Corniche and Jumeirah 3. The books come in several languages and there are beanbags and tables available, too.
Beach Libraries, several locations around Dubai
6. Al Mankhool Library
Located in Bur Dubai, the Al Mankhool Library offers a wide range of books and references, which you can read in its quiet setting — perfect if you want to get some studying, work or general reading done. A five-year membership here costs just Dhs75 for children under 12 and Dhs220 for adults.
Al Mankhool Library, Al Mankhool, Dubai, Sat to Thur 8am to 7.45pm, Fri closed, Dhs75 children membership fee, Dhs220 adult membership fee. Tel: (04) 515 5200.
You might also like
7. Umm Suqeim Public Library
This Umm Suqeim Public Library has a large number of books available in English and Arabic. It also offers up free internet access, and a dedicated children’s section complete with a reading hall, activity room, audiovisual equipment and more. It’s free if you want to read at the library itself, but a five-year membership here, where you can take books home, costs Dhs220 for one person, and Dhs270 for a family.
Umm Suqeim Public Library, 770 Jumeirah Street, Dubai, Sat to Thur 8am to 8pm, Fri closed, Dhs220 membership fee for one person, Dhs270 membership fee for a family (valid for five years), Tel: (04) 348 2512.
Opening soon: Mohammed Bin Rashid Library
Everyone in Dubai is eagerly awaiting the opening of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library. Construction on the library, which resembles an open book sitting on a rehl (a traditional lectern that holds the Quran) looks to be complete and it should open some time this year. It is expected to be the largest cultural centre in the Middle East and North Africa, housing more than 4.5 million books. We don’t have an actual date for its opening yet, but we will surely let you know as soon as do.
Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, Al Jaddaf, Dubai, opening soon.