x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

University opens library resource on US perspectives

A US State Department initiative has launched at Al Hosn University as part of a push to develop a greater understanding of America culture.

Richard G Olson, the US ambassador to the UAE, opened public library specialising in US resources at Al Hosn University.
Richard G Olson, the US ambassador to the UAE, opened public library specialising in US resources at Al Hosn University.

ABU DHABI // A new public library at Al Hosn University has been set up to foster greater understanding of American policy, culture and history.

The American Corner is a US state department initiative running in countries including Jordan, Brazil and Russia. The centre is set up for students and the public as a resource for everything from American literature and film to papers on national policy.

The US ambassador to the UAE, Richard Olsen, said these centres were vital for fostering understanding of the US and building relations, especially in the Islamic world.

He said the centres provided "a window into American life", allowing students and the public to explore issues from American technology to women's empowerment, arts and music.

In 2009, US President Barack Obama said in his Cairo speech that students around the world would be targeted as the link between the West and the Islamic world.

David Hirsch, the libraries adviser at the National Library - the only public facility in the emirate - said such initiatives were vital.

"We need to have more services for the public," he said. "Our main concern is to get the young interested in reading. But this is not just for the students, it's for the wider community."

Daniel Malak, a third-year architecture student at Al Hosn, hopes opening the American Corner up to the community will encourage more interaction between students, promoting discussion and integration.

The 18-year-old is looking forward to reading classic American literature and hopes to set up a reading club. "It's nice to have new resources and new perspectives on issues other than those related to our academic studies," he said.

The university's vice chancellor, Abdul Rahim Sabouni, said the library symbolised Abu Dhabi's friendship with the US.

"Many of the people who've helped us set up our world class programmes are from US universities," he said at the launch on Sunday evening.

"We have many close relationships with US universities, such as Kettering and the University of Michigan, sharing teaching and research expertise."

Exposure to different cultural, political and economic perspectives, prepared students to meet the challenges of life after university, Mr Sabouni said.

Elias Sayah, the executive vice president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Abu Dhabi, said students could learn a lot from US history and expertise. "The US isn't just about the F16," he said. "It's about different cultures meeting."

mswan@thenational.ae