Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

Bodour Al Qasimi steps in to restore three libraries damaged in Beirut explosion

She called on organisations to help revive the vibrant cultural scene the Lebanese capital is famous for

Geitawi public library in Beirut, Lebanon, one of the three to be restored. 
Geitawi public library in Beirut, Lebanon, one of the three to be restored. 

Renowned Emirati publisher Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi has stepped in to restore several libraries damaged by last month's devastating explosion in Beirut.

The work entails extensive renovation of the Monnot library as well as supplying new equipment to upgrade the Bachoura and Geitawi libraries.

About 300,000 people were made homeless and several neighbourhoods destroyed in the August 4 explosion.

"Restoring libraries and cultural centres are as important as supplying humanitarian aid," said Sheikha Bodour, the daughter of the Ruler of Sharjah.

"As we stand by people who lost their homes and businesses, we should not forget how vital the cultural role played by Beirut’s libraries, art galleries and institutions has been – not only for Lebanon but the entire Arab region and the world," she said.

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi. Lebanon's cultural riches must be safeguarded, she said. Delores Johnson / The National
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi. Lebanon's cultural riches must be safeguarded, she said. Delores Johnson / The National

"Their revival will ensure the preservation and continuity of Lebanon’s rich cultural legacy and hopefully help the Lebanese people recover faster by bringing a sense of normalcy to the city."

Sheikha Bodour, also President of the International Publisher's Association, said the initiative aimed to send a message of solidarity to the Lebanese community, symbolising the sympathy of millions of Arabs for the ordeal the people of Lebanon were going through.

She also called on cultural and humanitarian organisations in the Arab region and the world to help revive the vibrant cultural scene the Lebanese capital is famous for.

"There are books, paintings and musical instruments that need shelter and care in order to continue enriching the lives of the Lebanese people," she said.

The Sharjah World Book Capital Office – Sheikha Bodour leads its Advisory Committee – will be leading the efforts to restore the three libraries.

The three are associated with Assabil – an organisation that promotes free and open access to public libraries in Lebanon.

Ziad Alwan, president of Assabil, thanked Sheikha Bodour for her support.

"We aspire to see a day when books and reading is ... freely to everybody, especially the younger generations on whom falls the responsibility of not only rebuilding Beirut, but also continuing the march towards education and enlightenment," said Mr Alwan.

"Initiatives such as Sheikha Bodour’s serve to give us the hope and determination to realise our aspirations."

Updated: September 10, 2020 08:00 AM

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