Kutubna Cultural Center, established in 2023, is a self-contained independent bookstore and cultural space, located in the ever-morphing literary hub of Dubai. A unique platform that celebrates writing, ideas and scholarship, the focus is on building community and creating an open avenue for dialogue exchange and creative expression. 

Emirati and Kuwaiti scholar, founder, Shatha Almutawa is weaving a network that celebrates Khaleeji writing and scholarship. Her vision is to make this the leading destination for literary and cultural enrichment in the Gulf region and become a symbol for knowledge and wisdom.  

Credit: Liana Mukhamedzianova @liana.dxb

While acknowledging the accomplishments of Khaleeji authors, poets, and scholars, the centre is deeply committed to supporting the development of the region’s academic and creative talent. Using the power of literature and arts, it aims to enlighten and change lives. 

Throughout the year there are numerous comprehensive programs planned, from conversation-filled get-togethers to exhibits, that promote learning, and collaboration. Exploring the rich tapestry of the literary art and culture, attendees are immersed in a world of words, creativity, and ideas. 

Dubai Humanities was a nine-month festival to support Khaleeji scholars based in the Gulf at all stages of their careers. The program helped to develop their skills, create opportunities to engage with new scholarship and ideas, and help build community. Accessible to a diverse group of people, including people outside of academia, the activities included a monthly in-person public lecture, roundtable discussions, book incubator, training for academics and online asynchronous guided conversations on topics in the humanities.

Established as an important cultural landmark, there is a strong commitment to nurture and amplify the voices of Khaleeji, Arab, Middle Eastern, North African, and Muslim writers, poets, thinkers, and researchers through lectures, readings, guided conversations and other activities for people of all ages. An inclusive and welcoming hub, the team works especially hard to make cultural events easier for mothers with young children to attend.

Credit: Liana Mukhamedzianova @liana.dxb

Inviting seasoned bibliophiles or even casual readers, there is a calendar full of events for all ages. Focusing on works by Khaleeji authors, the Ten-Pages Book Club offers people who are too busy to read a whole book between book club meetings and read only ten pages before each meeting. The writing groups are open to anyone working on independent projects including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and academic writing. 

Supporting women from the community, there is an ongoing program dedicated to guiding women who want to enter the workforce for the first time or who want to return to the workforce. It includes brainstorming pathways to start or restart careers, review of resumes, and insightful discussions. 

Offering a packed roster of social activities for children aimed to foster a love for books, art, music, and learning, it is an immersive and welcome space. From writing workshops to story time and scavenger hunts, it is a space for littles to play, explore and dream big. 

Credit: Liana Mukhamedzianova @liana.dxb

Featuring two art galleries, Walls Gallery and Columns Gallery that are open to proposals for exhibits, they are currently exhibiting a photo exhibition Everyday Life in the Spectacular City by Dr. Rana AlMutawa. Based on the groundbreaking urban ethnography book that reveals how middle-class citizens and longtime residents of Dubai interact with the city's spaces to create meaningful social lives. 

Drawing people and experiences together, Kutubna provides an unparalleled opportunity for literary exploration and discovery. This is a dynamic centre for enriching conversations, exchanges, and learning. An inclusive community hub that is not member-based, it is committed to nurturing local culture and seeks to foster a sense of belonging and empowerment for all.

For more information, please visit www.kutubna.ae

– Saira Malik

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