From November 1st until November 5th, 2022 OIB Interim Director Thomas Würtz and Vice Director/Head Librarian Hans-Peter Pökel visited the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF)
which is one of the largest in the region. The visit allowed an overview of the rich Gulf publication activities and enabled also fruitful cooperation talks with the United Arab Emirates Cultural Ministry, the Qatar Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Culture of the Sultanate Oman as well as the National Library and Archives of Abu Dhabi.
An important part of the travel was also the visit of the Mohamed Bin Rashed Library
(https://www.mbrl.ae/) in Dubai which has just opened in June 2022 and can already be considered as one of the largest (7 floors) and most important libraries in the Gulf region.
Thomas Würtz and Hans-Peter Pökel had the great pleasure to meet library advisor David Hirsch and the chairman His Excellency Mohammad Ahmad Al Murr who initiated this unique library that also offers most modern technologies in the fields of user services, information and media literacy. Although it is a public library it offers an enormous number of more than five hundred thousand items as well as a huge exhibition floor with rare manuscripts. Among them are early fragments of the Quran and much more treasures from the foundation history of the United Arab Emirates, Arabic and Islamic Literatures, Arabic Sciences but also world literature and considers itself as a hosting place for universal knowledge. The architecture of the building as an open Quran signifies as well the compatibility of all knowledge.
Furthermore Thomas Würtz and Hans-Peter Pökel could visit the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi as a central place for cultural activities and funding in the Emirates and particularly in Abu Dhabi.
During the whole journey it was very impressive to recognize the rich potential that the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf region as a whole offers also for scholarly activities and the library. The visit of two representatives of the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB) was hopefully a first step to improve the connection of our research library with relevant institutions and to do extent network in the area.