Public library opens on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche beach

The beach library has four desktop computers and 14 iPads that are available to search the collections.

The newly opened library on the family beach on Abu Dhabi Corniche is one of the latest projects developed by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development and guaranteed to keep children and parents occupied while lazing in the sunshone. Lee Hoagland / The National
Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // For many sun lovers there is nothing nicer than laying on a beach and relaxing with a good book.
But what happens when you open your beach bag and realise you have left your book at home?
Well, if that occurs while you are at the Abu Dhabi Corniche do not despair because now you have a whole library of books to choose from.
The public library on the Abu Dhabi Corniche was officially opened on Thursday, to the delight of beach goers.
"We've been waiting for it to open for a year," said Stefania Ilie, 32, from Romania, who uses the family beach with her son, Horia, 2. "We've seen how it was built, how it was prepared, and when they started bringing out the chairs," she said. "We've been asking them 'Please open'!"
The family were among the first visitors who packed the library after it was inaugurated by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.
There are also libraries at Khalifa Park and at parks in Al Shahama and Al Bahia.
"Horia doesn't know how to read yet but he loves books," Mrs Ilie said.
"We have so many books at home but he prefers books with lots of images wherein you make up stories based on the pictures."
Mrs Ilie, who has lived in Abu Dhabi for three and a half years, said she and her son had been coming to the beach every day since he was 18 months old.
"What will be nicer than coming to the beach, seeing the lovely view of the sea and enjoy the sun while reading a book?" she said.
"For me that's the most relaxing activity and we can now both engage in our favourite pastime."
She said she would like to see creative activities on weekends such as storytelling to encourage children to read and listen.
"It would also be nice if they can gather the kids around and read them a story and explain things," Mrs Ilie said. "For the much older kids, the authorities can organise small science experiments and give them endless opportunities to play and learn."
Tahany Hamdan, 31, came with her sons Yousef, 6, and Khalid, 8, and daughters Mona, 3, and Noor, 10.
They excitedly browsed through the library's general and reference collections, including some rare books on UAE history.
The Emirati collection has a number of coffee table books on the life and times of the founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed, the President, Sheikh Khalifa, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, by the UAE photographer Noor Ali Rashid.
The general collection has a selection of autobiographies, literary fiction, culture and history books, children's books, dictionaries, encyclopaedias and cookbooks.
Among them were Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom, Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist and the 2006 memoir of Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love.
"Opening a library here is a good idea," Mrs Hamdan said. "It will encourage children to develop good reading habits and improve their language skills."
Adel Al Rabeea, marketing and communications director at Abu Dhabi Municipality, said there was a demand for a beach library.
"Ninety per cent of those we surveyed said it was necessary to have a library here," he said."We partnered with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development in this initiative. It's amazing that we transformed a store to a library."
Sheikh Nahyan said he hoped the beach library would be a popular spot among residents and tourists.
"As we develop the knowledge-based society in the UAE and make use of the technology, we have these learning centres opening where all information needed for researchers and people who want to learn something," he said on the sidelines of the event.
"We want to create an environment where information is available to everybody at any given time and place, such as this lovely Corniche beach."
One of the initiatives by the ministry is the Emirates National Catalogue of Libraries, which corresponds to the Government's 2021 vision to become a leading country by employing knowledge and innovation as one of its tools to achieve the goal.
The beach library has four desktop computers and 14 iPads that are available to search the collections.
Last month, Sheikh Khalifa appointed Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, as the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, and Sheikh Nahyan said: "People are coming by the tens and thousands in this country and this is part of our commitment that is aligned with the vision of the President, Sheikh Khalifa, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to invest in learning centres in the UAE and support education.
"As Sheikh Mohammed is now the head of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, it sends a strong message on how important education is."