Archive image of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with the 2022 Arab Reading Challenge champion Sham Al Bakour in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, today announced on Twitter that the Arab Reading Challenge has become the largest reading project globally, with 24.8 million students from 46 countries participating.

He also announced that the seventh edition of the Arab Reading Challenge for 2023 has seen record participation and an 11 per cent increase compared to last year’s numbers. Around 24.8 million students, including over 22,500 people of determination, are taking part in this year’s Challenge.

Sheikh Mohammed said: “With a record participation of 24.8 million students from 46 countries, the Arab Reading Challenge has become the world’s largest reading project. Focusing exclusively on reading in Arabic, our aim is to instil in the young generation a love of our language, and strengthen their connection to the Arab culture, roots and civilisation.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported and contributed to this global project in every participating country, and thank you to more than 150,000 reading supervisors who made this achievement a reality,” He added.

A race for knowledge

Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Secretary-General of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, said: “The Arab Reading Challenge, launched by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum 7 years ago, has become a milestone for developing reading and accumulating knowledge. It has also become a great motivation to dive deeper into the beauty of the Arabic language and its vast potential to accommodate modern sciences.

“This year’s 7th Arab Reading Challenge is particularly significant for many reasons. For the first time ever, the Challenge has added a new category for People of Determination to help nurture their potential and enhance their inclusion in the Arab cultural scene and in the community in general. We are thrilled that 22,506 students of determination have moved up to the final round of qualifications in participating countries,” he added.

Cultural openness

The final round of country-level qualifications for the seventh Arab Reading Challenge, the largest Arab initiative of its kind organised by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, has kicked off and will see the selection of Challenge Champions for each participating country. The winners will go on to compete for the Arab Reading Challenge Champion title, which will be announced during the final ceremony in Dubai.

Launched in its first edition in the academic year 2015/2016, the Arab Reading Challenge reflects the vision of Sheikh Mohammed and his belief that “reading is the first step towards a better future driven by knowledge and learning”.

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.

New category

The seventh edition of the Arab Reading 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. Over 22,500 students of determination, who have read 25 books according to the conditions of participation, have moved up to the final rounds.

Moving up the stages

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.

Ongoing success

The 7th edition of the Arab Reading Challenge builds on the success of previous Challenges. Syrian student Sham Al Bakour was crowned Champion of the 6th Arab Reading Challenge, which saw the participation of 22.27 million students from 44 countries.

The 5th edition welcomed over 21 million participants from 52 countries, with Jordanian student Abdullah Mohammed Abu Khalaf crowned as its Champion.

Title of the 4th Arab Reading Challenge, with 13.5 million students from 49 countries, was won by Hadeel Anwar from Sudan, while that of the 3rd edition saw the participation of 10.5 million students from 44 countries and was won by Maryam Amjoun from Morocco.

The 2nd edition saw the participation of 7.4 million students from 26 countries and was won by Afaf Sherif from Palestine, while the 1st ever Arab Reading Challenge recorded 3.6 million students from 19 countries, with Abdullah Farah Jalloud from Algeria crowned as its Champion.

The project, which focuses on reading in Arabic, seeks to foster a deep connection with the language in younger generations while linking them to their Arab culture and roots. It also aims to promote the resurgence of civilization in the region.

Latest edition

The tweet also showed a video highlighting that this year marks the challenge’s seventh edition, with 3 million new readers joining. The number of participating countries has expanded to 46, including both Arab and foreign nations, with 188,000 schools involved.

Dh11 million prize pool

Launched in 2015, the Arab Reading Challenge is the largest-ever Arab literacy initiative, aiming to encourage students in Grades 1 to 12 to read as many Arabic books as possible throughout the academic year. The challenge, initiated by Sheikh Mohammed, offers a total prize money of Dh11 million.

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