Mega library to open in Doha, but Qataris not book lovers

UN report: less than 2% of Arab World reads a book a year

20 November, 18:23

A rendering of Qatar's new National Library A rendering of Qatar's new National Library

(ANSAmed) - DOHA, 20 NOVEMBER - A mega library in Doha is under construction, although the Qatari people are not known for their love of literature. Set to open in 2014, the National Library of Qatar, designed by architect Rem Koolhaas, is kitted out with 300 computers, access to over 60 online databases and millions of e-books. But encouraging the Qatari people to read is an uphill struggle. Huge in-roads to reducing illiteracy have been made: 20% of the population couldn't read or write in 1990 versus 5% in 2012. But according to a 2010 UN report less than 2% of the Arab world reads at least one book a year. Reading is a foreign concept. Libraries in Doha are scarce.

Virgin Megastore - mostly known for cook books and best sellers, is the capital's most revered reading establishment. Claudia Lux, heading up the National Library of Qatar, hopes that the project will encourage Qataris to pick up a book.

"Qatar's National Library is a place between home and work where Qataris can socialize, spend time with their families and experience culture", said Lux.

Doomsayers predict that the library could end up like other projects in Qatar: unloved. Millions of dollars have been pumped into museums, concert halls and galleries in the region which have failed to attract the local population. (ANSAMed)

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