Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Watan Library reveals new display of books and rare manuscripts

The additions will be available to visitors at the library and through its digital collection

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Visitors to Qasr Al Watan Library inside the Abu Dhabi presidential palace will now have access to four new books and rare manuscripts, as part of a new display.

This includes a book by prominent Egyptian writer Taha Hussein, an English translation of a tome by historian Ibn al-Qutiya, as well as works on early world travel and falconry. While these are accessible at the palace, they can also be found in its digital collection for the next three months.

The library, which is home to a collection of 50,000 texts and 16 million digital documents, reopened to the public in February after it was closed because of the pandemic.

Here, we take a closer look at the books that are part of the new showcase.

'Early Islamic Spain: The History of Ibn al-Qutiya'

'Early Islamic Spain: The History of Ibn Al-Qutiya'. Courtesy Qasr Al Watan Library

This is the first published English-language translation of the original historical text, which contains ancient stories from the earliest histories of Islamic Spain, as well as a study of the original author, Ibn al-Qutiya, and his work.

It is a significant source for scholars in this field, and the author wrote this manuscript at the height of the Umayyad Caliphate of Muslim Spain and Portugal (al-Andalus), providing deep insights that focus on the first 250 years of Muslim rule in the peninsula.

In another section, readers get a glimpse into the writer's exceptional background, including his European origins and his experience as a loyal servant of the Iberian Umayyads. Ibn al-Qutiya also taught Arabic, the Hadith and history at the Great Mosque of Cordoba.

'Coursing and Falconry' by Harding Edward De Fonblanque Cox

'Coursing and Falconry' by Harding Cox. Courtesy Qasr Al Watan Library

Early books on the subject of falconry are now extremely scarce. This particular piece has been selected by scholars as being culturally important.

Coursing and Falconry substantially elucidates the history of the management of hawks and falcons for the sport, as well as the breeding and management of greyhounds as coursing dogs.

It is a rare book that is important enough to have been protected, preserved, reproduced and made available to the public. Because of its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages.

'Dramas by a Group of the Most Famous French Writers 1924' by Taha Hussein 

'Dramas by a Group of the Most Famous French Writers 1924' by Taha Hussein. Courtesy Qasr Al Watan Library

Taha Hussein was one of the most influential 20th-century Egyptian writers and intellectuals, and one of the most prominent figures for the Egyptian Renaissance and modernist movement in the Middle East and North Africa.

He was a leading cultural and public figure in Egypt and was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature 14 times.

His book, Dramas by a Group of the Most Famous French Writers 1924, includes critical and analytical chapters that cover a range of modern representations published in The Political.

With this, Hussein sought to achieve two things: illuminate Arabic-speaking readers to an emerging form of western literature; and to raise awareness and let these stories and their various philosophical opinions and artistic doctrines impact the hearts of writers and performers – particularly those concerned with Arab representation – and encourage them to include this form of art in their work.

'The New Universal Traveller', or, 'A Collection of late Voyages and Travels through Europe, Asia, Africa, America and the South-Sea Islands' by Robert Heron 

'A Collection of Late Voyages and Travels' by Robert Heron. Courtesy Qasr Al Watan Library

The New Universal Traveller, also referred to as a collection of late voyages and travels, through Europe, Asia, Africa, America and the South-Sea Islands by Robert Heron is a purely cultural book that follows the adventures of Niebuhr, an avid traveller.

The book takes readers to continents such as Asia, Africa, America and Europe through vivid descriptions that provide insight on the climate, cultures, habits and traditional clothing of the places Niebuhr visited.

Qasr Al Watan Library is open throughout the week, except Mondays and Saturdays, 10am-8pm.

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