This Spectacular Library is like a Shopping Mall for Books

Roller Coasters, robots, and reading.

(Kateryna Galkina /

Some say that knowledge is the greatest treasure and that books can serve as portals to magical new worlds. Maybe the designers of the Mohammed Bin Rashid library, that opened in Dubai June 2022, were inspired by these concepts when they created a space that is resplendent with treasures and antiques and is full of unique rooms that look like they came from the pages of a fantasy novel. 

Lauded by CNN as one of the world’s most spectacular libraries, the Mohammed Bin Rashid library has it all: treasures, technology, architecture, cultural events, and, of course, millions and millions of books.

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The facade

With a total square footage of nearly 600,000 square feet, the Mohammed Bin Rashid library attracts attention even before patrons enter inside. The prominent building is shaped like a rehl, the book rest used to hold a Quran. 

The library’s facade isn’t just beautiful. It is functional as well, with solar panels and water recycling integrated into the impressive structure. Mohammed al-Murr, the library’s chairman, who shares the inspiration behind the library’s contemporary design, told Book Riot“The library of Mohammed bin Rashid is the newest library in the Arab world. We made sure from the start that it is a modern library and a source for knowledge,” al-Murr explained.

A roller coaster for books?

Arabian Business shared pictures of the library’s lobby, a large open space showcasing glass elevators that allow visitors to access the nine library levels. The lobby also hosts eye-catching and photogenic walls of books, dozens of feet high. 

CNN reports that these books are only a fraction of the 1.1 million books that the facility contains. Patrons can also download digital books from machines spread throughout the library. Those looking for a specific printed book can use the library’s app or the information counters to make a request from the underground Auto Book Store.

Once a title has been requested, the book is robotically delivered from the basement to the ground floor via mini rails, which look like roller coasters for books. 

Meet Pepper

Also on the ground floor is the Children’s Library, for ages five and up. The Children’s Library combines physical and digital resources, with about 17,000 print books, playground slides, tents, a Hologram space, iPads, computer games, accessible and Braille books, and a humanoid reading robot named Pepper, according to the Schools Compared website.

Pepper has been designed to recognize faces and feelings and interact with the children visiting the library. It can even lead a storytime circle and read out loud to children.

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Children ages 12 to 17 years old will appreciate the Young Adults’ Library, which boasts 12,000 titles including fantasy, science fiction, biography, comics, manga, graphic novels, and a diverse digital collection that can also be accessed remotely.

Treasures of the Library

The Treasures of the Library room has antique and valuable pieces on display, according to  Gulf News. It features ancient books, like a 17th century original atlas showcasing 593 maps from the Dutch Golden Age. It also contains the entire works of Shakespeare, with 36 originally printed plays from 1632.

Map lovers will appreciate the exhibition of ancient European and Ottoman maps of the Arabian Peninsula printed from 15th to the 19th century. One of the maps, is a gilded Ptolemy map, that dates back to 1482.

One of the most prominent antique pieces is the pure golden case, decked out with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. The piece dates back to the Deccan sultanates in Central India in the 16th century, where such artifacts were frequently gifted to court ministers. Alongside the case is a lotus-shaped inkwell decorated with a Whisper Bird, a bird that symbolizes wisdom.

The library will also host cultural events, CNN reported, with more than 200 events planned per year. The goal is to put Dubai on the cultural and literacy map. Author, publisher, and library board member, Jamal Al Shehhi explains, "A lot of people like shopping malls, but a lot of people like books too. Dubai is known as a hub for business, trade and tourism, but now this iconic building is giving the message that the cultural background does exist in Dubai, and there is nothing better than books to deliver that message."

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