The Sharjah Book Authority chose the title ‘Baba Zayed’ to enhance national identity. Image Credit: Sharjah Book Authority

Sharjah: Children in the UAE are set to enter a new pleasurable age of reading with the launch of the world’s first virtual reality book. Available in Arabic and English, it is part of Sharjah Book Authority’s (SBA) campaign to promote the eighth edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), which takes place from April 20-30 at Expo Centre Sharjah.

SBA chose the title Baba Zayed — a publication from Kalimat publishing house — as the first book to employ the virtual reality technology. The book enables children to learn a brief biography about the founder of the Union, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is renowned as not just a political leader but also a visionary.

The book was specifically selected by SBA to enhance national identity among children in the UAE.

Ahmad Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said; “At Sharjah Book Authority, we strive to make the best use of technology to enhance culture and knowledge, especially in its application to children’s literature. With the launch of the digital publication Baba Zayed, we are seeking to utilise the latest development in expanding knowledge. This technology has been available in world markets for some time, but its uses until now have been limited to digital games and films. This book will be the first of its kind in the world that uses 3D VR Glasses to enable children to read and at the same time enjoy 360-degree interaction with the story.”

The launch of the virtual reality Baba Zayed, which encourages children to engage with its events and be influenced by its characters directly, aims to attract children and encourage them to read by taking advantage of their passion for technology and its latest developments.

The new offering is in line with SBA’s literary initiatives that involve a range of inspiring and innovative ideas to increase children’s interaction with books and instil a love of reading, as well as help facilitate SCRF 2016 as an interactive platform that combines learning, fun and activity.

SBA began its promotional campaign for the virtual reality book at KidZania in Dubai Mall through interactive platforms that included VR headsets that downloaded the electronic interactive version of Baba Zayed in Arabic and English.

Al Ameri added; “The use of digital virtual technology in books is one of the creative ideas that exemplifies the vision of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, on the importance of nurturing children’s minds with knowledge and intellect. We want children to discover the pleasure of reading and aspire to make use of all means that help achieve this target. In doing so, we hope to contribute to creating an educated generation capable of building itself and serving the nation.”

Al Ameri noted that the late Shaikh Zayed succeeded in achieving a qualitative leap in the history of the UAE. “Inspired by his great personality, we decided to start our new project by converting a set of books into virtual reality technology, starting with the Baba Zayed title. This is because we believe in the need for children to learn about Shaikh Zayed, his inspiring traits, his visionary qualities and his passion for knowledge and reading,” he added.

The 11-day SCRF will bring together top Arab and international children’s authors engaging in a series of sessions to discuss ways to help stimulate young people to read.