Dubai, UAE : The first meeting of the Global Council for the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) 4, has taken place in Dubai with international participants joining virtually. Chaired by Isobel Abulhoul OBE, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation, the council affirmed its commitment to Reading for Pleasure as a vehicle to address Quality Education (SDG4), and added Reduced Inequalities (SDG10), and Partnerships for the Goals (SDG17) to its scope.

The 18 members of the council have all been chosen for their passion for these Sustainable Development Goals and contribute with both time and expertise. From a range of backgrounds, they all share a fundamental belief in the power of reading to improve the lives of children. The aim of the council is to create a project with significant measurable impact, which can function as a model that is effective, scalable and transferrable to other geographies.   

Isobel Abulhoul, chairperson for the Global Council said: “Reading sustains me through good times and bad, it allows me to dream, to imagine, to cry, to laugh, to think, to change my point of view, to feed my mind and my soul. I have eternal gratitude to my parents who always made time to read to my brother and me, and I fervently wish for all children to have someone to read to them simply for their enjoyment every day.

“All of us on the council believe that children should have the opportunity to fall in love with reading, so that they can gain the proven associated benefits, from better mental health, and understanding of the world to future careers and earning potential.”  

The Global Councils on Sustainable Development Goals were launched at the World Government Summit to implement projects with tangible outcomes and support the international implementation of the SDGs. It is a unique interdisciplinary network of decision makers from governments, international organizations, academia, and the private sector coming together to share innovative practices and discuss the creative implementation of the SDGs at national and global levels.

The Global Council for Quality Education, Reduced Inequalities and Partnerships for the Goals brings together: Isobel Abulhoul OBE, CEO and Trustee for the Emirates Literature Foundation and Chairperson SDG Global Council; Alan Williamson, CEO of Taaleem Group; Dr Amer Ahmad Sharif, Vice Chancellor of Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU); Asma Kalban, an Emirati publisher and a writer; Dubai Abulhoul, Emirati author and CEO of Fiker Institute; Ebtisam Al-Beiti, Early Years Professional and Children’s Author; Fahad Ali, Founder and Managing Director at Broomstick Creative; Fatma Al Marri, Chief Executive Officer for the Development of Emirati Student Education Programs at KHDA;  Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE DL, actress, presenter, writer, award winning independent producer, politician and an active advocate for the wellbeing, care and education of children; Dr Hanada Taha Thomure, Endowed Professor of Arabic Language and director of the Arabic Language Center for Research & Development at Zayed University, UAE; Eng. Khalid Kalbat, leading the Student Well-being Sector (Acting) at the Emirates School Establishment (ESE); Dr Laila Familiar, Senior Lecturer of Arabic at New York University in Abu Dhabi, academic consultant for American Councils for International Education, and a teacher trainer; Dr Nadia Dabbagh is a UK-trained consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist; Nujeen Mustafa, Kurdish Syrian refugee and activist; HE Omar Ghobash, Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Rana Dajani Ph.D. molecular cell biology from U of Iowa, author and professor; HE Saeed Alnazari, Director General of the Federal Youth Authority, Executive Director of the Youth Office at the Prime Minister’s Office and CSO of the Arab Youth Center;  Ziauddin Yousafzai co-founder and board member of Malala Fund and a father of the famous writer Malala.


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About the Emirates Literature Foundation:

The Emirates Literature Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which supports and nurtures a love of literature in the United Arab Emirates and the region, through a programme of varied cultural initiatives.

Established in 2013 by Royal Decree issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Foundation aims to foster a love for literature, with a focus on the Arabic language.

In line with the National Reading Policy of the UAE, the Foundation has implemented several long-term projects including the School Librarian of the Year Award, Kateb Maktub, and From the Inside Out, as well as conducting year-round student education programmes, book clubs and creative writing courses. The Foundation’s previous initiatives included the 2020 International Literary Festivals Conference, 2016 Dubai Translation Conference and the 2017 Dubai International Publishing Conference.

The Foundation is also the governing body of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the UAE’s premier literary festival. 

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