I have just recently paid a visit to the biggest community library here in Al Ain, the Zayed Central Library. It has just recently opened in 2016, yet while fairly new, they have a pretty decent collection for a town that is considered fairly small in the United Arab Emirates.
They have a one-time registration fee of 400 dirhams (around 108 USD), but this is a lifetime membership that will enable you to borrow 15 books in total for three weeks.
The entire building is pretty impressive. English and Arabic titles are shelved together. There were graphic novels and a number of familiar young adult/ middle grade novels as well.
Patrons can borrow picturebooks for free (up to seven titles) if you have children aged 15 and below. Since my daughter is now 18 years old, I have to pay the registration fee to enable me to borrow the books that caught my eye.
I found a lot of international titles translated into Arabic. There were also a few recently published books, the latest one I saw was around 2018. I am not sure what the system is in terms of purchasing titles, since I have not found any picturebooks (that I know of) published in 2019. Neither were any of the recently announced 2020 winners at the ALA (American Library Association) on display nor available, but I am hoping I will find out what the general system is soon enough.
I was especially intrigued by this entire children’s area section with picturebooks that are printed in Braille:
Here are some of the books I borrowed – all picturebooks (and one graphic novel), naturally.
Book Haul from the Library
The First Gazelle by Dr. Fatema Hamad Al Mazroudi and illustrated by Fatema al Bustani.
Let’s Play Dress Up by Dr Reem El Mutwali
My daughter’s classmate who reads Arabic (she’s Jordanian-Palestinian) says that the book’s title is Voice Of The Ocean. Doesn’t it look lovely?