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Six rare works at Mohammed bin Rashid Library, from a 17th-century Quran to ‘Don Quixote’

Staff reporter

The six-year construction of Dubai’s bookstand-shaped Mohammed bin Rashid Library has had many moving parts.

Alongside the deft engineering and landscaping of this architectural marvel, content teams travelled the world scouring institutions for rare novels, documents, manuscripts and writing tools to showcase at the library.

The library is home to more than one million physical and digital books.

And, when it opens to the public on Thursday in Al Jaddaf, they are available for all to see.

Scroll through the gallery above to see what’s inside the library

The results of these expeditions lie on the seventh floor as part of the Treasures of the Library, a sprawling and permanent feature of the Mohammed bin Rashid Library.

Visitors are invited to stroll around this museum-like space and marvel at some of the classic international and regional works, all encased in stands.

“Collecting these works took two years,” board member Jamal Al Shehhi tells The National.

“We had teams going around the world searching for them and even acquiring them at charity auctions. We were determined to get the best titles that we can find.”

Here we take a closer look at six rare literary publications you can see at the Treasures of the Library exhibition.

1. ‘Description de L’Egypte’

The original series of publications appeared first in 1809 and catalogued various aspects of ancient and modern Egypt; they were written by scholars and academics who accompanied Napoleon Bonaparte on his expedition to the country in 1798.

2. ‘Don Quixote’ by Miguel De Cervantes

The library boasts a first edition of the two-part novel, which was published in 1605 and 1615.

Viewed as one of the foundations of western literature and as the first modern novel, Don Quixote is one of the most translated books in the world.

Following the adventures of Alonso Quijano, the novel went on to influence Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers (1844) and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).

3. A 17th-century Quran from Golconda

Written in black ink and on gold paper, this 17th-century Quran is distinguished by its unique style.

This is on account of the many Persian calligraphers employed by the Qutb Shahi rulers of Golconda, in what is modern-day Hyderabad, India.

‘The Ramayana’ by Valmiki is one of the most famous works of ancient Indian poetry. Saeed Saeed / The National

4. ‘The Ramayana’ by Valmiki

The library has a beautifully preserved 1817 copy of the epic ancient Indian poem, ascribed to the writer Valmiki, believed to have lived around 500 BC.

One of the great works of Indian poetry, this edition of The Ramayana (meaning Rama’s Journey) comes with detailed illustrations complementing the narratives and philosophical teachings imbued within the piece.

5. ‘Akhbar Dubai Magazine’

The library has the ninth issue of the first magazine printed in Dubai, which was published on March 3, 1979. The magazine first began in 1965.

Akhar Dubai covered local UAE news and political and cultural issues related to the Mena region, before ceasing publication in 1980.

6. ‘Al Massa’ (The Evening Newspaper)

A framed copy of a 1931 edition of Egypt’s first nightly newspaper.

In addition to covering local, international and economic news, the paper was fiercely nationalistic.

The front cover of the edition displayed in the library has a story, complete with editorial caricature, imploring Egyptians to stop purchasing British garments and go local instead.

Mohammed bin Rashid Library is located in Al Jaddaf, Dubai. Operating hours are 9am-9pm from Monday to Saturday. More information is available on the official Twitter account.

Scroll through the gallery below to see more of Mohammed bin Rashid Library

Construction of the Mohammed bin Rashid Library began in 2016. Its upper floors are designed to resemble a book rest.
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