How often do you start a library visit with lunch? We did, in the spectacularly-built Mohammed Bin Rashid Library on the Creek in Dubai. Entering the building, you immediately realise that this is something you have never experienced before, despite visits to many libraries in many cities and countries during over 40 years in our profession.

We took the lift to the exhibition floor at the top of the building, hoping it would be a relaxed environment with beautiful books and art. We were right. There were magical books from the past, and collectibles worth travelling to see for themselves, and the presentation of all the items was mesmerising. Mohammed Bin Rashid Library is a knowledge centre that every self-respecting city should create as part of its future. Books provide the knowledge and insights needed to develop Dubai’s future vision for 2071. Built in the shape of a rehl, the traditional wooden bookrest used to hold the Quran, the building overlooks Dubai Creek. The seven-story structure houses Dubai’s most ambitious cultural initiative, establishing a lighthouse of knowledge, culture and creativity to grow a collection by acquiring millions of books worldwide.

Founded by law in 2016, during the National Year of Reading, the collection of books is the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Supporting Dubai and UAE’s goals to develop a knowledge society, the library follows several important initiatives to promote and encourage reading, literacy, and Arabic literature.

The initiative’s primary objective is to stimulate a passion for knowledge among all people in the United Arab Emirates, particularly young people. The library actively supports and encourages reading, research, creativity, and entrepreneurship by providing free access to an outstanding range of books and other knowledge resources, quality information services, and event space.

The library plays an important and increasing role in preserving Arabic literature, culture, and heritage, ensuring public access to modern and rare old Arabic literary works, and helping to encourage and support young Arabic writers via the Arabic language publishing programme.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Library has ten main collections: The General Library, Young Adult Library, Children’s Library, Information Centre, Map and Atlas Library, Media and Arts Library, Business Library, Emirates Library, Periodicals Library, and Special Collections Library. In addition to physical collections, the library provides access to a wide variety of ebooks and other digital media. The Audiobook library is a resource for everyone but is especially useful to the visually impaired or those with reading difficulties. In addition, they are developing a range of Braille books. The library continually develops its collections, resources, programmes, and event calendars to share more books, knowledge, and information with the community.

In March, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library participated in Turkey’s International Library and Technology Festival titled The Key to the Digital Future: Artificial Intelligence-Based Smart Libraries. Experts, innovators, and specialists from public libraries worldwide attended the festival.

Through its participation, the library aimed to nurture academic and practical cooperation with libraries, information centres, and archives globally. It also aimed to create opportunities to exchange technical information and closely link it to library science. In addition, it aimed to communicate directly with institutions related to public libraries to discuss cooperation.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Library showcased its latest technologies and innovations during the event. In a video, it highlighted the artificial intelligence and virtual reality technologies integrated into its advanced technological system, as well as its key innovative services that stimulate readers’ experience and facilitate access to cultural content in an unprecedented way.