Library of Makkah Grand Mosque is ‘beacon of knowledge’

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The library’s main entrance will be from the Kaaba Mountain Road. (SPA)
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Inside the Grand Mosque library. (SPA)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Library of Makkah Grand Mosque is ‘beacon of knowledge’

  • The library at the Grand Mosque is one of the oldest libraries in the Islamic world
  • It was established during the second century (Hijri calendar) at the beginning of the Abbasid period in 160 AH

JEDDAH: The library of Makkah Grand Mosque, which is affiliated with the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, is one of the oldest libraries in the Islamic world. It was established during the second century AH at the beginning of the Abbasid period in 160 AH.

It was named the Library of Makkah Grand Mosque in 1357 AH when King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al-Saud set up a committee of Makkah scholars to study its conditions and organize it in accordance with its status and importance. 

The library began under one of the domes of the Grand Mosque dedicated to the preservation of copies of the Qur’an. 

In 1357 AH the library moved for the first time outside the Grand Mosque to become affiliated with the Ministry of Hajj until 1385 AH, when it was affiliated with the General Presidency of Religious Supervision at the Grand Mosque. It then changed its name to the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque and became a public library to serve students of religion.

The establishment of the Library of Makkah Grand Mosque project near the Grand Mosque and within the historical expansion project of the Grand Mosque affirms the status of the two Holy Mosques and the state’s keenness to take care of them and of the system of services provided and the scholarly and historical importance of the library. 

The establishment of the library near the Grand Mosque came as a permanent substitute for the rented building, according to the full designs and engineering plans of the project which are reflected in the finest style, the best level and most creative design worthy of the status of the Grand Mosque and everything related to it, especially the ancient library of the Grand Mosque, which has served knowledge and scholars for about 12 centuries. 

The project is located on the Kaaba Mountain Road on the northwestern side of the services building for the third Saudi expansion project and is crossed by the first ring road.

The multi-purpose library project aims to establish a scientific center and a world-class cultural and knowledge center in the holy capital centered on a central library of 20 million titles.

The project includes the lower service floors, the transport station and several other floors. There are other components of the cultural center such as the exhibition hall, the museum, the planetarium and the galleries.

It also has a large reading hall, a multi-story tower that includes bookshops, specialized bookshelves, research and translation centers, administrative offices, a conference center and a large lecture hall with all attendant services for more than 1,000 beneficiaries.

The library’s main entrance is on the Kaaba Mountain road and from the upper deck of the expansion project building. This will directly connect with the yards of the Grand Mosque. There will also be a back entrance from the proposed road linking the site to Omar bin Abdul Aziz Street.

The project aims to create a scientific edifice and a cultural center in the Grand Mosques area to be a magnet for visitors to Makkah throughout the year.

The project reflects the interest of the leadership in science and its students and translates the efforts and projects carried out by the state in the two Holy Mosques to achieve the objectives set for them. It provides a central library of world-class orientation, using the latest technologies, including nearly 20 million volumes of “books and manuscripts” with enough reading spaces for both men and women, offering the latest in the world of research tools and services.

All potential will be harnessed to make the library a cultural center with the largest number of visitors in the region — both residents of Makkah and visitors from all over the world — by focusing on the ideal diversity between cultural uses and services required and providing services such as the planetarium, galleries and modern technology screens.

The library will have enough reading spaces for both men and women, children’s desk services, translation and research centers, high-tech storage, delivery and receipt of folders, special collections and multi-media tools, as well as specialized services of the library with the latest scientific means, a manuscripts and digital library, a department for rehabilitation and restoration of ancient manuscripts and adequate administrative space.

The library, in its present location, has 15 sections serving readers and researchers to help them access library information, books, manuscripts, periodicals, lessons and audio speeches. 

Rare books have been digitised to offer fast service in line with expansion technologies and digital information storage to accommodate 160,000 books, 5,314 original and photocopied manuscripts, 2,500, and 40,000 periodicals.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque has been keen that people with special needs benefit from the services provided by the library through the allocation of a pavilion that cares for the blind and the disabled with books and brochures printed in braille and audio tapes, including more than 2,300 tapes and 700 books in science and literature.


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 31 min 50 sec ago
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.