Dubai, UAE: A grade 12 student from Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Sharqi School in Fujairah has won the UAE competition of the Arab Reading Challenge, a competition led by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI). Mohammed Ali Al Yamahi won the sixth edition of the competition, after outstanding 354,846  students from 689 schools across the country. The students were overseen by 1,378 teachers.

A special event was held at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai, where the announcement was made. It was attended by Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology and Sarah Al Nuaimi, Director of MBRGI.

This year’s Arab Reading Challenge was the largest in the history of the competition, with some 22 million students from 44 countries participating. This year’s event was the first in two years to be held in-person.

Preparing for the Future

Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri said: “The UAE’s leadership has made education a priority over the past 50 years and considers it a crucial pillar in the country’s next five decades. There is a need for education to keep pace with technological, environmental, and societal changes of the future. Education also has an important role in strengthening the UAE’s link with its heritage and reinforcing its cultural values to help consolidate its development and position on the global stage.”

Her Excellency continued: “Students are at the heart of the UAE’s education system. We are committed to fostering a supportive educational environment that enhances their abilities, nurtures their curiosity and learning, and sharpens their skills. The Arab Reading Challenge is an innovative educational initiative which leverages technology and smart teaching tools to help students develop.”

Top 10 Students

This year’s UAE competition featured 10 finalists, overseen by a judging panel. As well as recognising the winner, judges gave honorable mentions to the other nine finalists. They included Muhammad Issa Al Hammadi (grade 11 at Al Adhwa School in Al Ain), Ahmed Muhammad Al Hammadi (grade 12 at the Applied Technology High School in Ajman), Aisha Abdullah Al-Souqi (grade 10 at Fatima Al-Zahra School in Sharjah), Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Mansoori (grade 12 at the Applied Technology High School in Ras Al Khaimah), Aisha Abdullah Al-Zahmi (grade 10 at Murbah High School in Fujairah), Rawda Saeed Al Kaabi (grade 4 at Al-Shaheen School in Al-Ain), Fatima Amer Saleh (grade 11 at Mariah Al-Qibtyya School in Dubai), Mohammed Hassan Al-Kfoury (grade 9 at Al-Amir High School in Umm Al Quwain), and Abdullah Muhammad Ramadan (grade 11 at Bida Al-Mutawa School of Al-Dhafra Education Department).

The competition also awarded the top school, where Al Nouf School for Girls from the Sharjah Educational Zone won the title of Distinguished School.

The final qualifiers witnessed the honoring of Mona Shaheen Al Hammadi from the Khorfakkan Educational Zone with the title of Distinguished Supervisor.

Future Generations and the UAE Centennial 2071 Plan

Sarah Al Nuaimi, Director of MBRGI, commented: “The Arab Reading Challenge supports Emirati generations that seek to achieve the objectives of the UAE Centennial 2071 Plan. Encouraging reading is the best investment we can make in future generations as it enables them to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to meet rapid changes in a world that is full of challenges. The current and future generations will continue the UAE’s journey to becoming the best country in the world by its centennial in 2071.”

She added: “This year's edition of the Arab Reading Challenge has been exceptional in all areas and was the largest and most influential yet. We understand that investing in reading is an investment in the future since it opens minds, broadens horizons, boosts curiosity, and enhances values and excellence. Within the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, reading is key for enhancing the role of this region in the future of humanity.”

Reading for the Future

In 2015, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Arab Reading Challenge to be the largest Arab project to encourage students in the Arab world to read. It aims to get more than 1 million students to read 50 million books during their school year.

His Highness launched the initiative to boost reading and knowledge in the Arab world as part of the UAE’s efforts to help youth retain the Arabic language. Over the course of six editions, the challenge has witnessed a steady increase in the number of participants. The sixth edition included the participation of more than 22 million students. The fifth edition saw the participation of approximately 21 million students from 52 countries, while 13.5 million students from 49 countries participated in the fourth edition.

The challenge is divided into five stages. Each stage includes reading and summarising 10 books for children, after which the qualifying stages begin at a school level. The competition then progresses to the country level and then the finals. The challenge offers incentives and financial rewards for schools, students and their families.