Abu Dhabi / WAM
His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, has given directions to start the legislative procedure of drafting a UAE National Reading Law, which aims to ensure the sustainability of all government efforts to consolidate reading in the UAE for all ages, as well as identify the key responsibilities of government agencies in the field.
The law comes as part of the National Policy for Reading in the UAE, which was announced this morning at a press conference during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Also under the policy, the National Reading Strategy was adopted by Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – the strategy, which carries through to 2016, includes 30 main national initiatives sectors including education, health, culture, social development and the media and content industries.
The media event, addressed by five Federal Government Ministers, also saw the announcement of AED 100 million fund, backed by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to support all reading activities specifically for NGOs and volunteer based agencies.
Additionally, the details of a number of initiatives were shared at the event, including the adoption of one month each year by the UAE Cabinet to be dedicated to reading; the distribution of ‘Bags of Knowledge’ to new born citizens of the UAE; directions to enrich national reading content; a detailed review of publishing policies in UAE intended to support local publishers and the inclusion of elective social reading into the UAE curriculum as a measurable element of educational institutions.
In this context, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan stressed, “The UAE has moved during the past few decades from a country seeking to reduce illiteracy to a country seeking global competition in technical and scientific fields. Reading and knowledge are our path to excel and compete.” He added, “All reading policies and strategies are policies for building the nation and establishing educated, conscious, empowered and tolerant people. Our goal is to prepare our future generations to achieve developmental leaps, underpin our national leadership goals, strengthen our competitiveness and achieve our future vision for the UAE.”
His Highness commented on his direction to issue the National Reading Law: “The goal of the Reading Law is to provide a sound basis for lifelong learning for all members of our community and enhance the mental, intellectual and cultural assets of our people.” He added “The Reading Law will institutionalise and sustain efforts to make reading a key element of the work, jurisdiction and mission of a number of government agencies.”
For his part, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum confirmed that, “The United Arab Emirates, under the directives of His Highness the President, will be a pioneer in our region in issuing a law intended to promote, consolidate and support reading.” He highlighted that the law will begin its legislative cycle during the coming few weeks.
His Highness stated: “There is no knowledge-based economy without knowledge-based societies. Our development strategies cannot be built without building the capacity of our young generation. We can’t create a socially aware, tolerant society with strong family values and a sense of national identity without culture, reading and knowledge. A reading society embraces civilized values, is flexible and adaptable and has the intellectual capacity to drive development to take a role in our multi-cultural world.”
The announcement of the National Strategy for Reading in the UAE was made with the participation of Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, and President of the Supreme Committee for the ‘Reading Year’; Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention; Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education; Najla bint Mohammed Al Awar, Minister of Community Development; Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State; Afra Al Sabri, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture and the Knowledge Development and Saeed Al Eter, Director General of the Public Diplomacy Office at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future.
During the announcement it was also revealed that UNESCO standards for school libraries will be applied to all public schools, and their classification will be raised according to international standards. Also announced were the national targets for reading until 2026, including raising reading rates to 80% among students and 50% among adults, and raising the national output of content from the current 400 books per year to 4,000 books in 2026.
Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, said that the Ministry of Education has allocated a large budget to equip school libraries with the necessary books and reference resources. In order to get the initiative underway at the earliest, the ministry has earmarked funds to purchase books from the Abu Dhabi
International Book Fair.
‘UAE Reads’ sets another
Guinness World Record
Abu Dhabi / WAM
Under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior, the “UAE Reads” cultural initiative, which was organised by the UAE University, managed to set a new Guinness World Record title for the UAE with the ‘Largest Reading Lesson’.
The event was attended by H.H. Dr. Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan.
A total of 2,604 women, including female staff members from the Ministry of Interior, gathered to listen to Dr. Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammed, as she read a number of selected texts in the ‘world’s largest reading hour’. This falls in line with the UAE’s ‘Year of Reading 2016’ initiative launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Colonel Waleed Salem Al Shamesi, Director General of the Police College, said, “Setting this new record and making this prestigious entry into the Guinness World Records is not something new for the UAE, which has always been at the forefront of achievements and breaking records in various fields, following in the steps of the wise leadership in their determination to achieve excellence, creativity and uniqueness.