Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan reads the illustrated story book to a group of children at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The Children's National Medical Centre, home to the Shaikh Zayed Institute for Paediatric Surgical Innovation in Washington DC, has launched on Wednesday an illustrated, bilingual children’s book in support of UAE's Year of Reading initiative, it was announced.

Titled A Very Special Place, the book was launched during an event attended by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, at Tawam Hospital, Al Ain.

Shaikh Abdullah highlighted the importance of improving reading skills and promoting literature among youth and future generations, through instilling a love for reading among children from a young age.

He also noted the long-term collaborative relationship between Children’s National and the UAE government, and praised the hospital for supporting the UAE’s efforts in cultivating a generation of avid readers, thirsty for culture and knowledge.

Shaikh Abdullah said: "Over the course of many years, the UAE’s partnership with Children’s National Medical Centre has led to robust efforts to advance medical innovation, best practices and knowledge transfer to improve the lives of children in the UAE, US and around the world. This book is yet another example of the positive value that our collaboration imparts to our children and communities."

He read the illustrated storybook aloud to a group of children currently undergoing treatment at Tawam Hospital.

He also encouraged them to commit to and embrace reading, and emphasised that the knowledge gained from reading forms a fundamental cornerstone upon which nations are built.

The late Shaikh Zayed’s vision to improve the health and wellbeing of children everywhere is at the heart of Children’s National’s inspiration behind this book, similarly embodied through the creation of the Shaikh Zayed Institute which opened its doors in 2011.

The book launch coincided with the UAE’s 2016 Year of Reading, the designated year for nation-wide efforts to promote reading and create a generation of book lovers, consolidating the country's position as a global capital for knowledge and culture.

The event was attended by Maha Tayseer Barakat, Director-General of the Health Authority, Abu Dhabi, and Dr. Matar Rashid Al Darmaki, CEO of Abu Dhabi Health Services Company.

Dr. Al Darmaki said: “It is an honour to host Shaikh Abdullah at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, and we are grateful to him for his heartfelt interaction with the children. We commend Children’s National for leading this project and are delighted to be here to help introduce this book to the world. We have no doubt that it will bring our youngest patients and their families moments of joy and comfort in the time they need it most, during their stay at our hospitals.”

Dr. Kurt Newman, President and CEO of Children’s National, added, “On behalf of Children’s National, I’d like to express sincere gratitude to Shaikh Abdullah for his participation in our official book launch. We appreciate his enthusiasm and the time he spent with the children here. His presence contributed to the warm and positive atmosphere at this event. This project reflects our shared commitment to the healing power of reading and the arts. We continue to support the UAE and its leadership in these priorities, which support the healthy development and well-being of all children.”

The book is written by renowned Emirati writer Maitha Al Khayat, and illustrated by the talented Emirati graphic artist, Noura Al Sheikh.

Maitha is a member of twofour54’s ‘creative lab’, a subsidiary of the Media Zone Authority Abu Dhabi. The book is published and distributed by Al Hudhud Publishing.