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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Sheikh Mohammed congratulates UAE winner of Arab Reading Challenge

Hafsa Al Dhanhani is a 10th grade pupil in Fujairah and won because of her interesting book choices

The UAE winner of the Arab Reading Challenge, Hafsa Al Dhanhani, was announced earlier this month. Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiative
The UAE winner of the Arab Reading Challenge, Hafsa Al Dhanhani, was announced earlier this month. Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiative

The UAE winner of this year's Arab Reading Challenge is Hafsa Al Dhanhani.

Hafsa is a 10th grade pupil at Murbah Secondary School for Girls in Fujairah - a school about 27 kilometres north of Fujairah town centre.

Judges said the Emirati won because of her interesting book choices, her excellence in critiquing them, her self-confidence and her ability to showcase her character, culture and personality.

Hafsa, 15, now goes on to compete against 15 other pupils from the Arab world for the title of overall winner. This will be announced at the main awards ceremony to be held at Dubai Opera next week.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, congratulated Hafsa and the other participants on Monday.

"We are proud of the over 300,000 UAE students who participated in the challenge and congratulate the winner Hafsa Al Dhanhani," Sheikh Mohammed said. "The more our children read, the more optimistic our future becomes."

The Arab Reading Challenge involves participants reading 50 Arabic books a year and Sheikh Mohammed said about seven million pupils had participated this year - up from 3.5 million last year. About 318,000 pupils from more than 900 UAE schools competed - a 100 per cent increase in pupils on last year.

Amina Al Sakb from the Ras Al Khaimah Education Zone won the distinguished supervisor award, while the Emirates National School in Abu Dhabi was honoured as the UAE’s best school, beating competition from five others.

Ms Al Sakb won because of her "unwavering commitment to the challenge" and her careful follow-ups with other supervisors and pupils in Ras Al Khaimah. Ms Al Sakb also designed an electronic system to follow up with teachers and used social media to raise awareness of the challenge. The Emirates National School, meanwhile, also developed an electronic platform for pupil participation.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, stands with the finalists of the Arab Reading Challenge during the closing awards ceremony at the Dubai Opera last year. Christopher Pike / The National
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, stands with the finalists of the Arab Reading Challenge during the closing awards ceremony at the Dubai Opera last year. Christopher Pike / The National

Next week's Dubai Opera event will see the top school and highest-ranking pupils honoured with prize-money of about $3 million (Dh11m).

“We will celebrate next week, at the Dubai Opera, the seven million students, 40,000 schools and 75,000 supervisors who participated in the Arab Reading Challenge across the Arab World," Sheikh Mohammed said.

At last year's ceremony, Sheikh Mohammed predicted that the numbers participating in the challenge would rise and that has now been borne out by the latest figures. The long-term goal of the reading challenge is to encourage all pupils across the Arab World to read, as well as Arab pupils in foreign countries and bilingual Arabic speakers.

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Read more:

Reading prize put young winner on the write track

More than 3.5m students take part in Arab Reading Challenge

Enormous response to Arab Reading Challenge

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The Minister of Education, Hussain Al Hammadi, said that the Arab Reading Challenge enhances the education system across the Arab world.

“The main objective of the challenge is to support an educated, tolerant and open-minded generation of Arabs who are accepting of others – reading is an essential tool in achieving this," he said.

"It is also important that we engrain these values in the hearts and minds of young people, promote them through engaging initiatives like [the Arab Reading Challenge] and keep them at the chore of our education strategy.”

The Minister of State for Public Education, Jameela Al Muhairi, said the fact so many pupils in the UAE took part showed just how important the challenge is.

“Improving education and supporting cultural activities in the Arab world are priorities for the UAE’s leadership," she said.

All of the UAE finalists were honoured on Monday at a ceremony organised by the Ministry of Education.