UAE concludes Year of Reading on positive note

DUBAI, The directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for declaring 2016 as the Year of Reading have contributed to a momentous shift in the national personality and interests of the future generations, said Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, and Chairman of the Higher Supervisory Committees for the Year of Reading, as he announced the conclusion of the UAE’s Year of Reading 2016.

“The direct support extended by Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has further strengthened the UAE’s position as a global reference point for active and sustainable knowledge,” Al Gergawi, who is also Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future, said at the closing event of the Year of Reading.

In 2016, the UAE succeeded in transforming reading into a comprehensive societal activity, he said, adding, “The Year of Reading had surpassed expectations and expanded into an all-inclusive Arab initiative, garnering unprecedented levels of support and engagement as evidenced by the Arab Reading Challenge. The purpose of the reading marathon was to instil the daily habit of reading among Arab nations by attracting the participation of more than 3.5 million students, who collectively perused over 150 million books.”

Outlining the success of the Year of Reading, Al Gergawi said that the year 2016 witnessed more than 1,500 reading initiatives that engaged various segments of the society and most significantly, launched a strategy that aimed to transform the act of reading into a lifestyle in the UAE.

H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan also issued the National Reading Law, the first decree of its kind in the UAE and the wider region, positioning reading as a cultural value and setting it into a legislative context bound by implementation, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. The law mandates the education sector to develop curriculums that reinforce students’ reading skills and further instructs educational institutions to develop their libraries and encourage students to read through yearly plans and initiatives. Alongside the National Reading Law, the Reading Box initiative was also launched.

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued a decree, establishing an AED1 billion library in Dubai that will hold more than 4.5 million printed books, audio books and e-books, making it the largest of its kind in the Arab world. The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library will support the culture and knowledge aspects of the UAE’s comprehensive strategy, boost the reading culture in the Arab world, and instil the passion for knowledge and education among the youth.

Al Gergawi stressed that the most important national, organisational and societal efforts marked the Year of Reading as a stepping stone to a longer-term strategy that instils reading as a continuous practice.

The success of the initiative was a foregone conclusion with the support of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, who considers reading as a key tool in building a knowledge-based society – the foundation of a knowledge-based economy, Minister Al Gergawi said.

Source: Emirates News Agency