Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture announced on Friday a plan to radically overhaul the country’s public library system. Under the plan, which was launched by Minister of Culture Prince Badr Bin Abdullah Bin Farhan, the kingdom has committed to opening 153 libraries by 2030.
The new libraries are designed to accommodate a variety of activities and will feature a book-borrowing section, theatre stages for live performances, cinema screens, and multipurpose halls. With the ability to host extensive cultural events, the libraries will bring together members of the public and foster knowledge-sharing.
Developers will complete the first 13 libraries by 2022 with the remaining 140 to be completed by 2030. Saudi Arabia announced the plan following a review by the Ministry of Culture of the kingdom’s library system.
The Libraries Authority will oversee the project, which is part of Saudi Arabia’s broader plan to support and advance its cultural sector. In February 2020, the Saudi government established 11 new authorities tasked with overseeing various cultural sectors including fashion, film, museums, theatre, and music.
Announcing the new authorities, the Saudi Ministry of Culture said that “the aim is to promote culture as a lifestyle, contributing to economic growth and enhancing the Kingdom’s position internationally.” Promoting Saudi Arabia as a cultural hub is part of the government’s Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan which seeks to diversify the country’s economy and lessen its reliance on oil revenues.
The extension of the country’s library network via the cultural hubs announced on Friday will provide a much needed space for emerging artists to nurture their talents.