The National Library of Israel and the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates have signed a historic agreement to work together “in support of mutual and separate goals and for the benefit of the international cultural and documentary heritage sector.”
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is the first of its kind between the Jewish state and a Muslim Arab state and follows the Abraham Accords that were signed in September 2020.
The directors of the respective institutions, Oren Weinberg and Abdulla M. Alrasi, signed the memorandum. The collaboration will last for three years and focus on different areas, such as digital sharing of research materials, digitalization of books, conferences, exhibitions, study tours and professional knowledge sharing.
David Blumberg, chair of the National Library of Israel’s Board of Directors, stressed the importance of cultural cooperation for peace and bilateral relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
“I have no doubt that the real leap forward in ensuring sustainable peace and cordial relations over time will be in the realm of cultural ties and in the importance of respect for other cultures,” said Blumberg. “I am certain that close collaboration between the National Archives of the UAE and the National Library of Israel will serve as a cornerstone in ensuring warm relations for the mutual benefit of both countries into the future.”
The director of the UAE National Archives said collaborating with a world-class library institution and gaining access to rare documents and publications in Hebrew will…
“The National Archives has spread its wings around the world to reach the most advanced global archives and libraries, to obtain the documents that come at the heart of its interest as it documents the memory of the homeland for generations, and here we are today trying to complete our mission by reaching the holdings of the Israeli National Library to enhance the holdings of the National Archives with more documents, books and periodicals that were issued in the Hebrew language, which has become of great significance to intellectuals and those interested in history, heritage and contemporary sciences,” said Alrasi.
The National Library of Israel was established in 1892 in Jerusalem with the purpose of collecting and creating a “home for all works in all languages and literatures which have Jewish authors, even though they create in foreign cultures.”
While initially a modest library, it eventually grew into the world’s largest library specialized in Judaica and Israel related topics, numbering more than 5 million books, documents and publications. The vast collection includes rare ancient books and publications in Hebrew and many other languages. The library also has a significant collection of important Islamic and Arabic materials.
The library is currently located at the Givat Ram Campus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. However, more space is needed for the constantly expanding library. A brand-new vast library building is currently under construction close to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, and is expected to open in 2022.
By contrast, the UAE National Archives is a young institution, which was established in 1968. Its purpose was to preserve and collect historical documents covering the culture and history of the Arabian Peninsula and especially the United Arab Emirates.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.