ABU DHABI // The editor-in-chief of the UAE-based edition of National Geographic Al Arabiya magazine has embarked on a tour of the country’s universities to drum up some interest in cultures, the sciences and environmental awareness among students.
First stop on the tour was the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) in Khalifa City A yesterday, where Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, stopped by as well to show his support.
The tour will make 26 other stops at university campuses around the country to encourage students to arm themselves with more knowledge of our “sick” planet.
“Just like we feel pain and take care of ourselves and go to the hospital when we get sick, we should feel pain when we see the world gets sick,” said Mohamed al Hammadi.
Launching the magazine’s sixth issue, al Hammadi said sales had increased steadily since the first hit news-stands last October. “This year they are translated stories, and next year they will include local stories,” he said.
“This is not just a magazine we publish each month, but a mission, a message we want to convey to all houses in the Emirates to increase awareness about the environment, the planet, and help increase students’ interest in science.”
National Geographic Al Arabiya is published by the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC), which also owns and publishes The National.
Many of the students present said they were surprised by the magazine’s content. “I thought it was all about animals, but it isn’t,” said Fatima al Naimi, the president of the HCT’s student council. “It taught me more about the environment, about different cultures and traditions.”
Al Hammadi said this was a common misconception. “People think it is a geography magazine, all about nature, environment and animals, but that is not true. It is also about different cultures, tribes and new discoveries in health and science.
“A person who reads the magazine should read it from cover to cover. I, the editor, read it three times every month and personally gain more knowledge.”
He added that the tour could be extended to more Arab countries if it was deemed a success.
Reem Naser, an 18-year-old second-year student, said there was a tendency among students to ignore educational magazines. “People in general need to read more here,” she said. “As much attention to celebrity magazines needs to be given to educational magazines.”
Al Hammadi said the paucity of magazine readers had been a concern when his magazine first launched. He remained confident, however, that “content will sell the magazine”.
University professors were enthusiastic about any efforts to encourage students to read more.
“A lot of the students don’t read very much,” said Jennete Drissi, the chair of HCT’s first-year orientation programme. “The more we can get them to, the better.”