Arab Reading Challenge
Sarah Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology with Arab reading challenge winners Amna Mohammed Al Mansouri and Ghareeb Mohammed Al Yamahi in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, congratulated winners of UAE Arab Reading Challenge on Friday (July 7) in a ceremony held at the Higher Colleges of Technology – Men’s College.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said: “Today, the UAE celebrates 514,000 students from schools across the country, who have participated in the Arab Reading Challenge – which has seen a total participation of 24.8 million students from around the world.


“We are very proud of this year’s participants, hopeful for a new generation that loves reading, and reassured that our future will be in the hands of a generation passionate about learning and knowledge.”

Sheikh Mohammed congratulated Emirati student Amna Mohammed Al Mansouri (17) from Abu Dhabi who won the UAE Arab Reading Challenge.

Al Mansouri won the Arab Reading Challenge Champion in the UAE, as country-level qualifiers for the seventh edition of Arab Reading Challenge.

The Challenge saw 514,506 students participating from 921 schools, overseen by 1,578 supervisors.

Al Mansoori, from Aisha bint Abi Baker School in Abu Dhabi, was crowned during a major ceremony held at the Higher Colleges of Technology – Men’s College in the presence of HE Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Schools, as well as Dr. Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, CEO of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives alongside other officials and educators overseeing the Arab Reading Challenge.

Sheikh Mohammed said: “My heartfelt congratulations to Amna Mohammad Al Mansoori and her parents, for winning the first place in the UAE challenge after reading 128 books during the academic year. Two years ago, Amna lost the ability to walk, but that did not stop her. She soldiered ahead and sailed across the vast ocean of knowledge and literature. The challenge was the beginning of a life-changing experience.”Amna can walk again

“Today, Amna can walk once again, won the Reading Challenge and authored two stories. In a few days, she will represent the UAE in the International Physics Olympiad in Tokyo. Amna’s challenge was to rebuild herself and regain control of her life. This is what we want for all UAE youth,” His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said.

In an exclusive interview to Gulf News, Al Mansouri said: “Books have taught me to live and face challenges.”

“I have been reading since I was young. It is hard to tell how many books I have read till now. In the past two years I have read so many books especially classical, scientific, philosophical. For the challenge I read 131 books at least. There was a detailed judging that happened within our school, our emirate and then the national level. I look forward to taking part in the bigger Arab Reading Challenge,” said Al Mansouri, a Grade 11 student, is a fan of author Jokha Alharthi of Oman.


She said she is grateful for her win and encouraged young students to start their reading journey early on with a genre they like.

Sheikh Mohammed also congratulated Gharib Al Yamahi, a grade 12 student from Hamad bin Abdullah Al Sharqi Secondary School in Fujairah who won the Challenge title in the People of Determination category.

Al Yamahi is blind, but has several achievements to his credit. “He has read 130 braille books, writes articles and is both an articulate speaker and outstanding student. When a blind person reads 130 books, those with healthy eyesight must look again at what they read. We wish Gharib great success. His determination and willpower are living proof that in the UAE, nothing is impossible,” Sheikh Mohammed.

Largest Arab initiative of its kind

Organised by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and launched in its first edition in the academic year 2015/2016 as the largest Arab initiative of its kind, the Arab Reading Challenge reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his belief that “reading is the first step towards a better future driven by knowledge and learning.”

Dr. Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, CEO of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives in an interview to Gulf News said: “We are so happy to see over half a million students have participated in the challenge.

“These students have each read at least 50 books for the challenge. This will really boost the knowledge pool in the UAE. We are very proud of that knowledge base we have here,” said Olama.

“There is a great amount of talent in the UAE. We are especially thankful to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai for starting this initiative and giving all the support and encouragement to our young readers. The impact of this is huge. Parents, teachers, students are all in this together to create this huge knowledge base.”

Olama explained there are many criteria before announcing the reading challenge winner. “So it is not just about the number of books read by a student. It is also about comprehending the book and answering questions to a panel of judges.”

About the Reading Challenge

The Challenge aims to highlight the importance of reading, develop comprehension and self-expression using correct Arabic language, and nurture creative thinking skills to help enrich Arabic content and cement the Arabic language’s standing as a language of thought, science, research and creativity that can play a role in cultural dialogue and openness.

This year’s Challenge saw the addition of the ‘People of Determination’ category, a major improvement to the initiative that reflects the importance of their participation and of giving them the chance to prove their capabilities and enhance their skills. Three students out of the 190 people of determination taking part in this year’s Challenge moved up to the final round of country-level qualifiers.

Several rounds of qualification

The Challenge comprises several rounds of qualification for students who have successfully read and summarised the contents of 50 books. Qualifications start at the class level and end at the country level before the winners move to the final round. The selection of winners is based on strict and unified criteria that include an assessment of all relevant aspects.

Strategy to victory

Ahmed Al Bastaki, Emirates National School-Al Ain, the winning school of the challenge also spoke to Gulf News.

“We have a strategy in place across six branches of our school. We have a short-term strategy and a long-term strategy. The teachers and students sit together and prepare. Our success has been due to our preparation.”