Fatima Ahmad Bin Bakhit Al Nuaimi (Image Credit: Family)

Dubai: The 17-year-old Emirati student, Fatima Ahmad Bin Bakhit Al Nuaimi, who was the most outstanding among the UAE students who took part in the Arab Reading Challenge, has read more than 500 books in her life.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, honoured 15 students in the UAE who achieved outstanding results in the Arab Reading Challenge on Wednesday, Fatima among them.

Shaikh Mohammad surprised Al Nuaimi from Ras Al Khaimah, announcing that she was the most outstanding.

Al Nuaimi’s love of books started even before she knew how to read, “When I was young and did not yet learn how to read, my parents would read to me. Then when I learnt to read, I just kept reading. It was in me from the beginning,” the RAK American Academy for Girls student said in an interview with Gulf News.

She said she read 50 books in five months for the competition.

“I read both Arabic and English books, but for the challenge I had to only read Arabic books. I read only scientific English books. I used to read English fiction when I was younger, but as I grew I stopped as I liked Arabic literature, poetry and history books more.”

When asked about her favourite book out of the 50 she read, she said, “It is like you are asking a mother who her favourite child is, I cannot choose! Every book adds something new to you.”

However, she said books about the history of the UAE prior to the union really stayed with her.

The grade 12 bookworm said the challenge made her give more time to reading even when she was pressured by studies, “It made me read and spend every free moment I have reading, I would read when I am waiting anywhere — I always have a book on me,” she said.

Al Nuaimi wants to study Chemical Engineering, and hopes to work in any related field, “I just want to give back to the UAE and society in any way,” she said.

As to what advice she would give to people her age about reading, “Just read! It is entertaining and it takes you back to worlds that you could have never been to. It’s so much fun — trust me,” she said.

Since the launch of the challenge last year, 50,000 students in the UAE have read 50 books each during the school year. In total, the Arab Reading Challenge saw the participation of more than 160,000 students from 828 schools who read five million books.