Abu Dhabi’s secret libraries

Abu Dhabi has plenty of books, if you know where to look... Comments

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Al Shaheen Library

Undoubtedly one of the city’s best-kept secrets, this little-known literary haven boasts a catalogue of over 10,000 books. Open since 2002, it claims to be the city’s only privately owned public library, and stocks the latest issues of your favourite health and style magazines alongside classics and best-sellers. Members may only be able to keep hold of their chosen tomes for a week, but at just Dhs60 for four months, it’s one of the most cost-effective options for folk who are looking to keep up to speed with the latest releases.
Open Saturday-Thursday 9am-1pm, 5pm-10pm, Friday 5pm-9.30pm. Hamdan Street, behind Al Noor Hospital (02 676 8995)

Alliance Francaise

At Dhs750 for the year (Dhs1,000 for a family), membership certainly isn’t the cheapest, but then as the only specialist outlet of French language literature in the Emirate, you’d have to agree that’s très bon value. As well as access to more than 18,000 books and periodicals, members also receive a 10 per cent discount on Alliance Francaise’s French and Arabic Language courses. There are no English language novels on offer, though, so don’t go along and ask for Bravo Two Zero – you’ll only get yourself an unapologetic Parisian shrug.
Open daily 9am-8pm. Khalid Bin Abdel Aziz Street, opposite Khalidiya Mall (02 666 6232)

The Club

With over 16,000 titles on the shelves, ranging from DIY manuals to Agatha Christie classics, The Club’s library boasts one of the largest selections of books in the city. It’s not the cheapest, sadly – even after paying the Dhs3,500 joining fee, you’ll still need to shell out Dhs2,875 for a year’s library membership. You’ll get access to The Club’s various other facilities, of course, including their exclusive bars, restaurants, sports activities and private beach. So at least you’ll have no shortage of places to kick back and enjoy your papery selections.
Open Sunday-Thursday 10am-8pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-7pm. Mina Al Saadiyat (02 673 1111)

Daly Community Library

With just 7,000 titles on offer, this may not be the most choice-packed library in the city, but, having been open since 1978, it is certainly one of the oldest. It’s owned and operated by the St Andrew’s Church, which pledges all membership revenue towards updating their catalogue and renting the premises, so you needn’t worry about feeding the capitalist machine as you flick through the latest Dan Brown. It’s Dhs90 to join, then Dhs120 for a year’s membership, with reduced rates for your knowledge-hungry little ones.
Open Wednesday 11am-1.30pm, 5pm-6.30pm, Thursday 11am-1.30pm, Sunday 3.30pm-7.30pm. St Andrew’s Church, Airport Road and 17th Street (02 446 4752)

National Library

As the city’s biggest, don’t expect the quaint community vibe and personal service offered by some of the city’s smaller, independent outlets as you wander among the National Library’s heaving shelves. Mind you, with over 300,000 Arabic titles and more than 100,000 in other languages, only the snobbiest of bookworms could bemoan what’s unquestionably the capital’s greatest literary resource. Best of all, membership is free (a refundable Dhs400 deposit aside) and you can keep hold of your selections for 15 days at a time.
Open Sunday-Thursday 8am-10pm, Friday 5pm-8pm, Saturday 9am-1pm, 5pm-8pm. 33rd Street, between Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street and Airport Road (02 657 6034)

By David Clack
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

User reviews:

Posted by: roxy on 05 May ' 13 at 07:47

i need a good quiet place to study so was looking for a free public library like the one in cultural foundtion since it closed down please help

Posted by: Faisal Qayyum on 16 Jul ' 11 at 18:07

I want to join a good library in Abu Dhabi. Could you please guide me.

Posted by: Ian Slater on 25 Nov ' 10 at 20:01

You need to get your facts right. The Daly Community Library is NOT run and operated by the St Andrews Church. It is privately run and merely rents the room in which it is located.

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