Sharjah is Named the 2019 UNESCO World Book Capital Unveiling an Iconic Monument and Huge New Library

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Architecture graduate and travel blogger Memo Zambrano (@heymemozam) explores Sharjah’s new monument by internationally-acclaimed artist Gerry Judah. Join Memo as he explores the new site and delves into the plans for the exciting House of Wisdom opening in 2020.

Sharjah has been selected as the UNESCO World Book Capital 2019 (Mabrook Sharjah!), and as a UAE resident this is something to be proud of as it’s the first city in the gulf to be awarded the title. This is also great for the vision of the city of Sharjah, cementing its reputation as a ‘cultural capital’ offering different points of attraction for tourists, visitors and residents.

Earlier last month, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, announced the news to the public.

As part of the Book Capital events and to celebrate the achievement, Sharjah unveiled ‘The Scroll’, a public monument designed by British Artist Gerry Judah, known for his extensive work as a set designer for big names like the BBC and sculptures for the British Museum or famous singers such as Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson and Led Zeppelin. It serves the city as a landmark of cultural achievement and in my perspective,  the monument will forever represent the city’s great achievement.

The library and the scroll are located outside of Univeristy city which have played a pivotal role in Sharjah being selected as the World Book Capital, being connected with Airport road makes it of easy access and creates flux towards the area.

As part of unveiling the new addition to the emirate’s cultural attractions; ‘The House of Wisdom’. It was designed by one of my favorite Architects, the award winner Fosters + Partners, a UK based firm that if you don’t know by name, you will surely know their projects in big cities like the Gherkin in London or the headquarters of Apple in California, for me as an Architect, this sounds like music to ears!

TheHouseofWisdom_Image1The scroll is a metallic spiral structure about 36 meters high and more than 70 tons of steel. It is shaped as a torch and was inspired by the design of an ancient scroll that serves to represent the power of books and how literature can bring people together. From an urban perspective this is one of the goals of this landmark - to create activities in this cultural quarter of the city.

To tell you more about The House of Wisdom, this new library (that will open by 2020) will be built across two floors and will offer visitors more than 100.000 different books, as well as meeting rooms, reading areas (indoor and outdoor) with an outstanding garden, restaurant, coffee shop, as well as an area dedicated for children’s education, prayer rooms and a women’s exclusive area.

The objective of the house of wisdom is for visitors to experience a different way to explore reading, to engage socially and to appropriate the space, which again, architecturally speaking is what we architects want. For visitors to feel comfortable, cozy and want to come back. It is an immersive mix of digital and traditional methods of presenting the sources of knowledge, making it more interactive and up-to-date for users.


In addition to that, The House of Wisdom will have a speed-record printing machine for visitors to use, this will help users print books to encourage them to continue reading at home.

Again, As an architect, I am counting the days to come and explore the building, knowing the background story of it and the Architect behind the design, assures me that this new attraction in the city will definitely become a touristic highlight not just in Sharjah but in the whole of the UAE

Well done Sharjah! You are non stop!


Memo Zambrano