His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced on Saturday the winner announcement date of the 4th edition of the Arab Reading Challenge.
On his social media platforms, he said, “We celebrate more than 13 million students in the Arab Reading Challenge, the largest Arab knowledge initiative. We are stronger with Arab youth who believe in the power of words.”
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Arab Reading Champion 2019 will be declared on Wednesday, November 13 in a grand ceremony at Dubai Opera.
Five contestants, shortlisted from 16 semi-finalists, are running up for the grand prize after several elimination stages marked through the challenge’s reality TV show.
Hadeel Anwar from Sudan, Jumana Al Malki from Saudi Arabia, Fatima Al Zahra Akhyar from Morocco, Aya Boutreea from Tunisia, Abdulaziz Al Khaldi from Kuwait were shortlisted after the elimination of UAE’s Mezna Najeeb and Algeria’s Naima Kabir.
This year’s Arab Reading Champion will take home Dh500,000 after outperforming 13.5 million students who received support from 99,000 supervisors from 67,000 schools across 49 countries.
Over 3,000 delegates, officials, families, students and school faculties across the world are expected to attend the grand celebration, which will announce the Arab Reading Champion, Outstanding Supervisor, and Best School, giving away a total of Dh11 million worth of prizes after a year-long season of competitions.
His Excellency Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Secretary General of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), said, “In its fourth year, the Arab Reading Challenge has established its status as a pioneering initiative that developed youth’s capabilities, creating the largest knowledge movement across educational institutions in the Arab world.”
He added, “The Arab Reading Challenge reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to build future enlightened generations capable of improving their lives through knowledge and contributing to achieving sustainable development of their societies.”
He noted that this vision is implemented through the overarching MBRGI, which oversees the Arab Reading Challenge as part of its programmes dedicated to Spreading Education and Knowledge that benefitted over 41 million people across the world in 2018, with a total expenditure that amounted to Dh628 million.
Al Gergawi said, “The Arab Reading Challenge has translated Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s unshakeable faith in Arab youth’s immense passion for knowledge and learning.”
Arab viewers across the world can watch the final awards ceremony live from Dubai Opera on MBC1.
Education ministers across the Arab world commended the participants regardless of the competition phase they had reached.
Her Excellency Jameela Al Muhairi, the UAE Minister of State for Public Education, noted her pride in national winner Mezna Najeeb for representing the UAE in the semi-finals. “She demonstrated sharp intellect, great knowledge and openness to constructive criticism despite being the youngest semi-finalist of 10 years old.”
She stressed that the challenge encourages sustainable and consistent reading through an integrated system of student support throughout the academic year, besides monetary prizes and trophies that reward students, schools, families and supervisors for encouraging the habit of reading across the Arab world. “Among the strategic goals of the challenge is to develop public awareness about the importance of reading and enrich the school environment with tools necessary to create constructive dialogue and a generation of innovative thinkers,” said Al Muhairi. She added that all the participants in the Arab Reading Challenge are champions for their persistence and strong passion for knowledge that make their parents and supervisors proud. “Our participants proved that instilling love for reading among young people is the new hope for a better future,” said Al Muhairi.
Passion for knowledge
His Excellency Abdelhakim Belabed, Minister of National Education in Algeria, said the national contestant Naima Kabir’s participation in the finals brings pride to every Algerian student and reader. “Our champion Naima Kabir is a great example of enlightened, educated and persistent Arab youth.” He noted that the challenge’s 30 million participants in a span of four years since its inception represent “a symbol of our future and living proof that the Arab world still reads.”
He noted that the challenge plays an essential role in creating a knowledge movement in the Arab world that awakens a healthy competitive spirit and highlights the positive aspects of the Arab world. “The initiative showed the rising talents of the Arab world and made them role models to follow in self-learning and knowledge.”
His Excellency Hamed Al Azmi, Kuwait’s Minister of Education, praised the performance of national finalist Abdelaziz Al Khaldi in demonstrating and representing the knowledge and morals of the Kuwaiti youth.
He noted, “In a short period of time, the challenge attracted millions of students to practice reading as a daily habit, creating a positive and effective impact on the knowledge scene in the Arab world. We have seen this impact through the constant increase of participations year after year.”
Al Azmi also created a spirit of healthy competition among participants, while fostering the principle of accepting differences. “Regardless of the phase students reached in this challenge, they remain winners in taking the initiative of learning and becoming better versions of themselves to represent their countries in the best way possible.”
Daily habit of reading
His Excellency Hatem bin Salem, Tunisia’s Minister of Education, congratulated the national finalist Aya Boutreaa, expressing pride in her efforts and achievements that demonstrated hard work and diligence.
“We are grateful to have such an initiative in the Arab world that instills love for reading in the young generation and makes it a daily habit.”
The surge of participations every year, he said, demonstrates the challenge’s success in spreading the habit of reading. “The challenge played an integral role in promoting the values of tolerance and accepting differences through bringing students from different walks of life to compete towards a meaningful purpose,” said Salem.
Everyone is a winner
His Excellency Said Amzazi, Morocco’s Minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, referred to national winner Fatima Al Zahra Akhyar’s progress to the finals as “pride to her parents, school, teachers and the Moroccan education system as a whole.” He added, “Her outstanding performance proves the difference we can make for young people once we establish a strong learning foundation from a young age,” hoping that the title this year would go to the Moroccan finalist after her compatriot Mariam Amjoun was declared as the winner at 9 years of age last year.
Amzazi noted that the unique competition of cultural dimensions is designed to have no losers. “Once students pick up one book, they’re winners. No one can lose with gaining knowledge that equips people with necessary life skills to build a brighter future.”
Dr. Tahani Al Beiz, Undersecretary for Educational Programs in Saudi Arabia, congratulated the Arab Reading Challenge for the fulfilled expectations in Arab youth. “The challenge was launched with the firm belief that young Arabs are driven to gain knowledge and improve their skills to work harder for a better future for the country. And our young people did not disappoint. They actually exceeded our expectations.”
She noted that finalist Jumana Al Malki presents a role model for young Saudis. “She has given the right image of Saudi’s enlightened and passionate youth who believe that they can bring the positive difference they strive for.”
Al Beiz added that the challenge goes beyond a competition that declares winners to an initiative that helps develop self-learning skills, creative thinking, public speaking and linguistic skills.
The 7th episode of the Arab Reading Challenge TV show saw the seven remaining contestants partake one final decisive challenge to reach the finals. They had to convince the judging panel, in one minute, of the factors that make them eligible to move to the final stage of the competition.
Contestants were evaluated based on their ability to demonstrate their knowledge, communication skills and articulation of the Arabic language.
The MBRGI has transformed the semi-finals of this year’s Arab Reading Challenge into an 8-episode weekly reality TV show that showcased the journey of 16 contestants from 14 countries towards the coveted prize. The show enabled millions of Arab views to watch the progress of their national winners as they partake series of challenges and present their diverse skills in hopes to win the title.
The first-of-its-kind reality show aims to celebrate inspiring young Arab readers and highlight their success stories in an edutainment format, encouraging young people to follow suit and take up reading as a lifestyle, while preserving their language.
Since its launch in 2015, the Arab Reading Challenge aims to promote and establish passion for reading among Arab students living across the world, and in foreign communities. It also aims to expand its outreach to non-Arabic speakers with interest to learn the language, empowering them with knowledge build a prosperous future and contribute to development of their countries and the world. The challenge goes beyond reading to evaluating comprehension skills, communication, self-expression in Arabic, self-learning and creative and analytical skills.