Rare Books & Prints gallery is comprised of three rooms, and the Rare Manuscripts gallery comprises of two rooms including the Geography gallery.
This museum contains a group of valuable old books, prints, autographs and rare manuscripts which document the most important events in the world. Beside Quranic manuscripts, manuscripts and old prints from different dynasties are on exhibit. In addition, you will see manuscripts and old prints from the early fields of science from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Some of the highlights of the collection:
The first edition of Voyage to the Oriental Indies, (1590 AD) by the Venetian jeweler and merchant Gasparo Balbi. This was the earliest Western printed book mentioning Dubai, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm al-Quwain and islands in Abu Dhabi, in their local dialect; original photograph of Abd al-Qadir, the Algerian freedom fighter (1807-1883), a picture of him with the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte in the opera house, and diplomatic letters written by him that contain Arabic proverbs; Domingo Badia y Leblich (1807) or Ali Bey (a pseudonym in order to enter places forbidden to non-Muslims), the Spanish explorer and spy of the early 19th century.
The first edition of Ali Bey’s Atlas of his travels through Arabia. This version of his account belonged to the King of France; Boha-Eddin (Yusuf ibn Rafi’Ibn Shaddad al-Mausili) / Albert Schultens. Sirat al-Sultan al-Malek al-Nasr Salah al-Din 1st edition; 4th century Hebrew manuscript from the Torah, which is the oldest manuscript in the museum. Italian Cryptology, “29 encrypted diplomatic letters from the years 1710 – 1745 AD”; Bibliographically unrecorded series of vintage photographs of European birds of prey conceived by the Viennese zoologist and taxidermist Eduard Hodek (1874); The principal work of the theologian Johann Heinrich Hottinger (1659) presenting the entire body of knowledge about Islamic history and religion available at the time; manuscripts on medicine and pharmacology that contain colourful illustrations.
For example, Ibn Jazla’s, who was the “Imam of Medicine” in his time, manuscript (Taqwim al-Abdan fi Tadbir al-Insan) dating back to the fifteenth century; a manuscript on physics dating back to 1592 AD; manuscripts on the life of the Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh) 1290 AD; Chapters from the Qur’an by a calligrapher from Brunei 1712 AD; a rare facsimile of the first book printed in the world by Johannes Gutenberg in 1454 AD; Local manuscripts, documents and poems from the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, considered as important references for the social, economic and cultural life, especially of different parts in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf countries; and The World of Islamic Civilization (1884 AD) by Gustave Le Bon, the father of social psychology.
The Geography Gallery
The geography gallery is room 3 of the Rare Books & Prints Museum and includes old prints, maps and manuscripts, for example, the original comprehensive edition of the “Description de l’Égypte” (Description of Egypt) which is considered to be best detailed masterpiece about Egypt. It was published in 22 volumes by the order of Napoleon Bonaparte and kept in a specially-made contemporary cabinet. It also includes geographical manuscripts of Ibn alBakawi, Omar Al Wardi and others.