Our Middle East collections comprise manuscripts, printed books, newspapers and journals from countries in today's Middle East as well as from Iran and Central Asia from the 5th century AD to the present day.

Collection guides

  • Early 14th century botanical illustration

    Arabic collections

    Over 100,000 volumes of printed books, periodicals and newspapers; more than 15,000 manuscript works in about 14,000 volumes; and a range of other materials
  • An Armenian couple with an Armenian church in the background

    Christian Middle East collections

    Around 4,000 manuscripts and some 14,700 printed books and periodicals
  • A prince or dignitary presenting poets with turbans of honour

    Persian collections

    Over 40,000 volumes of printed books, periodicals and newspapers, more than 11,000 manuscripts, and a range of other materials.
  • Illuminated word panel featuring two birds

    Hebrew collections

    Manuscripts copied over 1,000 years ago to the most recent monographs and serials
  • Ahmedî's İskendernâme

    Turkish and Turkic collections

    Over 25,000 volumes of printed books, periodicals and newspapers, more than 4,000 manuscript texts, and other materials
  • View of Aden

    India Office Records: Middle East resources

    A wealth of information relating to British activities in the Middle East from the 17th to 20th centuries
Asian and African Studies Reading Room

Asian and African Studies Reading Room

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic journals
  • Order collection items to the Reading Room via our catalogues
If you need help, just ask our Information Specialists at the Reference Enquiry desk.

We offer workshops to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

You’ll need a Reader Pass

Mon: 10.00 – 17.00
Tue – Sat: 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays: closed

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

For enquiries, please contact the Reference Service

Blog posts

Dhofar, Doha and a ‘Road Trip’ to Riyadh: Bertram Thomas’ sojourns in Arabia

06 February 2016

These recent days have seen the 85th anniversary of the arrival in February 1931 of the party including the legendary Omani, Shaikh Saleh bin Kalut al Rashidi al Kathiri, who guided Bertram Thomas across the Empty Quarter, to complete the...

Book Now! Nottingham @BL_Labs Roadshow event - Wed 3 Feb (12.30pm-4pm)

28 January 2016

Do you live in or near Nottingham and are available on Wednesday 3 Feb between 1230 - 1600? Come along to the FREE UK @BL_Labs Roadshow event at GameCity and The National Video Game Arcade, Nottingham (we have some places...

Come to our first @BL_Labs Roadshow event at #citylis London Mon 1 Feb (5pm-7.30pm)

27 January 2016

Labs Roadshow at #citylis London, Mon 1 Feb (5pm-7.30pm) Live in or near North-East London and are available on Monday 1 Feb between 1700 - 1930? Come along to the first FREE UK Labs Roadshow event of 2016 (we have...

BL Labs Competition and Awards for 2016

22 January 2016

Today the Labs team is launching the fourth annual Competition and Awards for 2016. Please help us spread the word by tweeting, re-blogging and telling anyone who might be interested about it! British Library Labs Competition 2016 The annual Competition...

More blog posts

Projects

Digital Access to Persian Manuscripts

Our collection of Persian Manuscripts is one of the most important in the world

Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project

Aims to provide free online access to Hebrew manuscripts from the Library’s collection

External links

The British Library is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

AMIR

Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources

FIHRIST

A union catalogue for manuscripts in Arabic script in UK collections

Qatar Digital Library

Modern history and culture of the Gulf and wider region

Shop

Treasures in Focus The Golden Haggadah

The Golden Haggadah is one of the finest surviving Haggadah manuscripts from medieval Spain, and the British Library's most famous Hebraic treasure

£1

West Africa exhibition book

West Africa exhibition book

In this richly illustrated book, leading international scholars offer a unique insight into the stories of West African societies past and present

£25.00