Preserving the Past

The Middle East and North Africa, as they are rarely seen.

NYU Abu Dhabi has amassed an extraordinary collection of unique and rare materials that shed new light on the cultural and social history of the region.

Old photographs, personal letters, maps, rare books, films, and music are carefully archived in the University’s state-of-the-art library. Some of the materials are digitally scanned for global audiences to see online, while others are carefully cataloged and preserved for research purposes and personal enrichment.

Akkasah: Center for Photography

Akkasah is an archive of photographs that reveal the histories of everyday life, social change, and cultural development across the Middle East and North Africa. Many of the photos have been donated by institutions and individuals committed to preserving a visual record of the region’s past. Others have been found hidden away in shoeboxes or coffee tins, carefully stored in private homes, or found gathering dust on the shelves of old photo studios, and in street markets.

Akkasah’s collections allow us to see the cultures of the Middle East and North Africa as they are rarely seen.

Library of Arabic Literature

The Library of Arabic Literature works exclusively on translations of important literary pieces from the Middle East and Africa spanning the seventh to the nineteenth centuries. The collection, available online, is critical to understanding the history, culture, and literary traditions of the region, and introduces scholars and figures from the past who had deep, meaningful insights and observations about their times.

Archives and Special Collections

The role of the Middle East as a cultural, commercial, and geographic crossroads is reflected in primary source materials housed in Archives and Special Collections at the NYU Abu Dhabi Library. Rare books that document the transmission of scientific knowledge from the Arab world to medieval Europe, 400-year-old maps of the Arabian Peninsula, 1930s business records of a Bahraini merchant family, the works of Gulf filmmakers that screened at local film festivals in recent decades, and other one-of-a-kind resources are available to meet the research needs of students, faculty, and the wider community, and to feed their curiosity.