First public-access arts library in the United Arab Emirates to open: Pioneering resource centre launches alongside November’s inauguration of Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai

  • The Library collection is extraordinarily collaborative, with some material crowd-sourced from academic and cultural organisations in the region
  • Knowledge-generating Library programmes include talks, research projects, symposia and reading groups; Art Jameel Commissions will award a writer’s residency focused on research and publishing
  • The Jameel Library at Jameel Arts Centre, Jaddaf Waterfront, Dubai, opens on November 11, 2018

Art Jameel, the independent organisation that supports arts, education and heritage in the Middle East, today announces details of the Jameel Library, an open contemporary arts research centre dedicated to cultural histories of the Gulf and its neighbouring regions, located at the heart of the new Jameel Arts Centre (opening November 11). A truly pioneering asset for the regional arts community, the specialised bilingual library is the first of its kind made accessible to the public.

Reflecting Art Jameel’s commitment to collaboration, the Library’s collection has been in large part crowdsourced from Jameel Arts Centre’s extensive network of local, regional and international artists and academic, arts and cultural organisations. Experts from over 30 organisations have submitted materials that tell the story of the development of the local and regional arts scene and inform the public about regional artists’ practices. The continually growing archive launches with 2,000 books, journals, catalogues, theses, works of literature, exhibition documentation, ephemera and reading lists in both English and Arabic. The collection will expand over the years to include artists’ files and multimedia content. Complementing Jameel Arts Centre’s ongoing programmes and exhibitions, the library includes material on artists included in the Art Jameel Collection and exhibitions and commissions. The Library has a focus on exhibition histories of the Gulf, and collects catalogues, books, and ephemera related to shows and events through past and present.

“The Jameel Library is the first public research centre to focus on the cultural histories of this region; it’s a tremendously exciting and urgent project! This is not a ‘silent library’ but instead one that is alive with talks and events, discussion and debate. It’s also been a very collaborative project, with cultural institutions across the UAE and wider region recommending, and even donating, books and materials to us. Art Jameel also commissions writers and researchers, so that we’re telling the “history of the present” as well as that of the past. Like the Centre, the Library is open to all, and we look forward to welcoming the public from November 11 onwards,” said Uns Kattan, Head of Learning and Research at Art Jameel.

Jameel Library is an integral component of Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai. The Library’s collection focuses on making accessible the knowledge embedded in arts and culture; enabling the construction of multiple narratives; and making visible the fluidity of these ideas. Key content subjects include: exhibition histories, arts education projects, contemporary discourse from and about the region, in addition to selected artists’ monographs and mapped journeys of practice and influence.

Free and open to all, the library will become home to students, artists, researchers, writers, professionals and ‘the curious’ and, with an Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) that can be searched entirely online, is designed for both a local and global audience. Future plans include the digitisation of materials, as well as the production of publications and translations to expand the collection’s accessibility.

The launch of Jameel Library is aligned with a wider, renewed commitment to libraries in general, including, in the UAE for example, the forthcoming Dubai Culture’s Arts Library in Safa and the major Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, located close to Jameel Arts Centre in Jaddaf Waterfront.

Related programming

Designed to support the development of innovative writing and research, the next Art Jameel Commissions programme will grant a three-month residency to a writer, inviting the awardee to be ‘resident’ at the Centre and engage with the Jameel Library’s unique collection. An annual programme in a three-year cycle, Art Jameel Commissions is foundational to the programming of Jameel Arts Centre. An open call for proposals to Art Jameel Commissions: Arts Writing and Research runs until December 1, 2018.

Jameel Library is an active and dynamic learning platform, home to talks, reading groups, curated bibliographies, symposia, exhibitions and interventions. A spring 2019 symposium will expand themes from the Jameel Arts Centre’s inaugural exhibition ‘Crude’, curated by Murtaza Vali, which considers oil and its impact on history, society, culture, economics, the environment and the future.

From November 2018 through January 2019, Jameel Library will host a second edition of Research Studio: Confluence reading sessions. In response to a bibliography developed by author, curator and translator Omar Berrada, interdisciplinary artist Noush Anand and translator and critic Hafsa Hariga will run a series of free, public reading groups in English and Arabic. Each interlocutor will create an open platform for discussion, reflection and debate. Over 30 diverse participants took part in the first edition this summer at Art Jameel’s temporary pop-up space in Alserkal Avenue – including playwrights, journalists, philosophers, technologists, engineers, designers, artists and book-lovers based in the UAE, and hailing originally from India, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the UAE, the United States and Yemen. For more information and to register, please email

Jameel Library collaborators

The Jameel Library has received generous support from many institutions and individuals based locally and abroad. In addition to the following list of those who have donated physical publications, many more have contributed by way of recommendations, reading lists, acquisitions and other forms of support.

Jameel Library would like to thank:

  • Abu Dhabi Art
  • Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation
  • Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority
  • Alserkal Avenue
  • Anita Dawood
  • Art Dubai
  • Barjeel Art Foundation
  • Canvas Magazine
  • Cona Foundation
  • Delfina Foundation
  • Dhaka Art Summit
  • Dubai Culture & Arts Authority
  • Emirates Fine Arts Society
  • Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
  • Green Art Gallery
  • Hammad Nasar
  • Hans Ulrich-Obrist
  • Harper's Bazaar Arabia
  • Iniva
  • Katrina Weber Ashour
  • Kevin Jones
  • Khalid Albudoor
  • Kochi Biennale
  • Louvre Abu Dhabi
  • Maraya Arts Centre
  • Melissa Gronlund
  • National Pavilion UAE La Biennale di Venezia
  • NYUAD Gallery
  • Sara Naim
  • Sharjah Art Foundation
  • Sharjah Museum Authority
  • Sharjah National Theatre
  • Tashkeel
  • The Farjam Foundation
  • The Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation
  • The State
  • UAE Unlimited
  • Walid Siti
  • Warehouse 421

Further details on Jameel Arts Centre can be found here.

Further details on the Jameel Library can be found here.

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