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Dubai Opera to host Reading Challenge ceremony

Winners will be presented with awards valued at Dh11m

Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai Opera will host the ceremony to honour winners of the Arab Reading Challenge (ARC) on October 24.

The winners will be given awards valued at Dh11 million. Students participating in ARC read 150 million books in 2015.

Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs and the Future and chairman of ARC’s Organising Committee, said that the award exceeded expectations in terms of student participation.

The challenge’s 2015-16 edition attracted 3.59 million students from 54 nationalities, representing 30,000 schools in 21 countries, which was more than triple the target of one million students.

“The challenge attracted 10 per cent of the Arab world’s students in one year. The goal is to attract 50 per cent during the next four years,” said Al Gergawi.

The ceremony will be held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The ceremony will be attended by 400 guests and delegations from 21 countries, among which six are foreign, as well as diplomatic corps in the UAE.

Al Gergawi said that the challenge, launched in September 2015 by Shaikh Mohammad, is a quality addition to the regional role played by the UAE in spreading knowledge and consolidating the reading habit among the new generation.

Al Gergawi pointed out that the challenge stimulated the authoring, translating and publishing movement in the Arab world. He said that such a contribution, inspired by ARC, would help eliminate illiteracy in the Arab Nation, because reading consolidates concepts of tolerance and understanding while illiteracy incites extremism and hate.

The ceremony will honour the winners of the challenge from 18 competitors who reached the fourth and final round. With awards valued at Dh11 million, ARC is considered the largest project for encouraging reading in the Arab world.

More than 60,000 teachers applied for the role of supervisors in the challenge.

Al Gergawi indicated that books collected during the Reading Nation campaign, which was launched by the UAE in Ramadan, would be used to set up 900 libraries in different parts of the Arab world.

The reading rate of an Arab individual is a quarter of a page a year compared with 11 books in the US and seven books in the UK, according to a study conducted by the Supreme Council of Culture in Egypt.