Dubai-Seven-year-old Mohammed Jallood from Algeria won the first edition of Arab Reading Challenge. He was honored by Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s vice president, and received a prize of USD150,000 during a ceremony held at the Dubai Opera House.
The Palestinian-based Talaie’ Al-Amal School also won the USD1 million-prize after overcoming participating schools from Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco. Its victory announcement took place during the same celebration, which was attended by 1,500 people and 21 delegations from 21 countries.
Sheikh Mohammad said a reading nation creates generations that inherit wellness, forgiveness and righteousness.
Such a nation faces challenges with hope, perseverance, and determination and a reading generation will be able to build, create and interact positively with its surroundings and the world, he added.
He considered that reading and knowledge are our shortest way toward more civilization in the region and that maintaining our Arabic language, Islamic culture, and historic identity starts by reading.
Sheikh Mohammad emphasized the Arab Reading Challenge is the UAE’s message to the world that knowledge, education and thought have always been, and will remain, the weapon of choice for Arabs.
In its first edition, the Arab Reading Challenge attracted more than 3.5 million students from 54 nationalities. It introduces awards worth USD2.9 million.
The committee organizing the ceremony hoped the event would attract 50% of Arab students over the coming editions.
The competition witnessed the participation of over 60,000 teachers and 30,000 schools from 21 countries in addition to 48 judges and more than 3,000 volunteers who contributed to its success.
Dr. Abdullah al-Maglouth, member of the Arab Reading Challenge’s jury, said that such initiatives move reading to a different phase particularly amid the remarkable support that the event received.
Talking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Maglouth said: “Reading in the Arab world has increased. People have increasingly participated in university reading clubs, book discussions, in addition to remarkable attendance in book fairs”.
Hanan Al Hroub, the Palestinian teacher who was awarded the Best Teacher award and member of the jury, said that reading determines the shape and the quality of the society, adding that such initiatives are needed to raise awareness among people.