Arab Reading Challenge shows encouraging trend

ABU DHABI, 18th March 2016 (WAM) - More than 100 million books were read by 3.5 million students from 15 Arab countries by March 1, 2016, six months after the Arab Reading Challenge initiative was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed broke the great news on Wednesday, said the English language daily 'Gulf News' today.

"The sheer volume of the books read by the students reflects the success of the campaign, which the Vice President says will help "reshape our region culturally and intellectually" because such a transformation "starts with generations that value education, appreciate books and have a passion for exploration like our ancestors," it said.

The paper continued by saying; "Always the optimist, Sheikh Mohammed launched the initiative recognising fully the challenges ahead, considering the abysmal state of reading in the Arab world.

The reading rate of an Arab individual is a quarter of a page a year compared with 11 books in the United States and seven books in the United Kingdom, according to a study conducted by the Supreme Council of Culture in Egypt. Moreover, the Arab Thought Foundation’s Arab Report for Cultural Development, published last year, said the average reading time for an Arab child is six minutes a year compared with 12,000 minutes in the West."

The reading challenge now aims for 175 million books, to be read by Arab students by the end of this year, according to Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future and head of the Higher Committee of the Arab Reading Challenge.

Therefore, the paper concluded, the success of the reading challenge is not only a cause for celebration, but, more importantly, it is an incentive for all Arab governments, education institutions and the people themselves to join hands to expand the initiative launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, to make reading a lasting habit.