Saturday, January 14, 2012

Emirati women create book lovers' paradise

Their world comprises books and more books. "Our childhood memories were filled with books. We have always been book lovers." Shaikha Al Shamsi, a MBA graduate from Zayed University, told Gulf News. The same holds true for Mariam Al Khayat, a films studies graduate.
The passion for reading brought the two girls, who grew up in Al Ain, together. "In fifth grade, we started a book club. We were the only members, but still enjoyed it." Mariam said.
Last November, the passionate readers launched ‘The book shelter', a platform where book lovers across the UAE can donate and adopt used books.
"Both of us are book collectors, and we have constantly heard family and friends talk about their read and used books and how they'd want to put them to better use," Shaikha said.
That's how the website idea occurred to the two girls; an easy-to-use, electronic platform that would bring readers together to donate, share and provide new homes for books.
Any interested reader can simply log on to the website, choose a book from the list of books available, and request it for adoption. Likewise, they can log on, and offer their unwanted and unused books. In both cases, the book shelter team will deliver or pick up the books, free of charge.
It doesn't stop at the website though. The girls are aiming not only to provide a book-sharing platform but to spread the culture of reading across the UAE.
"Another initiative we run on the side is the reading nook; a cozy corner with a few side tables, couches and books, where people passing by can pick up books, and sit and read." Shaikha said.
The team launched the first reading nook in the Dubai Urban culture and Arts festival on December 10, which took place outdoors in Dubai, and they are now working on setting up permanent nooks in Sharjah.
The girls were more than happy to see that both the initiatives were well received in the community.
"We were happy to see the interest and support from readers of all ages and nationalities. A lot of people started using the website, donated books, adopted books and spread the word," Mariam said.
Follow them on twitter @TheBookShelter