x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

UAE to soon get bookclubs in every community

Zowd is an initiative by Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan to introduce book clubs in communities across the UAE.

Readers in the UAE express their interest via email and Zowd connects them with nearby bookclubs. Stephen Lock for The National
Readers in the UAE express their interest via email and Zowd connects them with nearby bookclubs. Stephen Lock for The National

Loosely meaning “more” in Arabic, Zowd is an organisation created last year by Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan to connect book lovers across Abu Dhabi and to instil in residents a love for the written word.

Zowd attempts to achieve this through various initiatives – including a workshop on dyslexia tomorrow and on Tuesday – in addition to its new website launch on April 24 as part of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

A shared passion

Zowd stems from Sheikha Alyazia’s passion for discussing literature. A keen reader from a young age, the Sheikha often found herself at odds with friends who didn’t share her enthusiasm for words.

“Many were not interested in reading,” she recalls. “So I started this little book club with my friends and realised that I was getting non-readers to be excited about the next book and meetings.”

Zowd was created to empower residents to create book clubs in their own communities. “We want to make book clubs a habit here in the UAE and also raise the standard of reading.”

The book clubs

Beginning early last year, Zowd already facilitated the creation of more than 30 book clubs across Abu Dhabi and Al Ain (run in both Arabic and English).

Readers express their interest via email and Zowd connects them with nearby book clubs, inviting potential leaders of new clubs to attend workshops to acquire skills needed to look after their group.

“This is the biggest challenge we have: to turn non-readers into readers,” Sheikha Alyazia explains. “So with leadership training, people learn how to form book clubs that are easy, accessible and not rigid. We want people to enjoy and not feel like it is a chore. They will learn how to manage different opinions and how to make the session interesting for everyone.”

Tackling dyslexia

Held in collaboration with Mum’s Guide Abu Dhabi, Monday and Tuesday’s workshops will be run by health practitioners. Sheikha Alyazia says the workshops are a part of Zowd’s mission to create book lovers from an early age.

“The best time to start is when they are young,” she says. “Mothers reading with their young children make it much easier, compared with an adult who starts at a later stage. The workshops will talk about ways to do that with dyslexic children.”

The website

The new website, www.zowd.org, will provide details of the nearest book clubs in addition to allowing people to register their interest in creating a new book club.

The site, through the use of online libraries, will offer details of titles available and encourage e-authors to publish their latest work online. The launch will also include the premiere of a short film by the Emirati filmmaker Amna Al Nuweis, featuring interviews with prominent Emiratis about their passion for reading.

• For more information or to register for the Reading Difficulties and Dyslexia workshops, call 056 618 7779. The workshops will be held tomorrow and on Tuesday at Al Shohub School for Girls, 6.30pm to 8.30pm. Tickets cost Dh25

sasaeed@thenational.ae

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