Year of Reading
Establishing the UAE as the capital of cultural and knowledge content
2016 was declared as the “Year of Reading” by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, to cultivate a culture of reading in the country. In line with this, an integrated national literacy framework was created to produce a reading generation and establish the UAE as the world’s capital for culture, reading and knowledge content.
The Year of Reading was conceived as the government underlined the importance of nurturing UAE’s own talents and fostering an educated generation that has awareness about global cultures and has the capability to work and innovate in various fields, in order to establish a knowledge-based economy and create a fresh route for development based on knowledge and innovation. The Supreme Committee for the Year of Reading was founded to undertake the responsibility of coordinating all efforts and carrying out the strategic initiatives to achieve this initiative’s goals.
The Year of Reading witnessed over 1,500 initiatives that involved different sectors of the society and became a catalyst in launching effective strategies to incorporate reading in the everyday lives of UAE citizens.
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, also offered immense support to this initiative by providing AED 100 million fund for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and volunteer-based organisations to finance all activities related to reading until 2026.
As a part of the government’s initiative, the month of March was announced to be the Month of Reading in the UAE every year starting from 2017, pioneering in October 2016.
National Plan for Reading
The year witnessed the launch of a 10-year national plan for reading to enhance the literacy skills of the people of UAE and encourage them to make reading a habit and a lifestyle by the year 2026.
The National Plan for Reading was founded on six objectives:
- Placing importance on the role of the family and society in improving the reading behaviour of individuals
- Upgrading academic and evaluation systems and practices to fully support readership
- Effectively utilising the media to disseminate information about the national reading strategy
- Providing an environment that is conducive to reading at work
- Building the right systems and infrastructures required to boost learning
- Improving the quality of reading materials in the UAE
National Law of Reading
The National Law of Reading was issued, the first directive of its kind in the country, which placed reading as a cultural value and required relevant entities to perform its implementation. It aims to make reading an everyday activity in public places across the UAE such as malls and coffee shops by providing reading materials to visitors. The decree also obliges schools and universities to enhance their libraries and promote reading among their students. It also seeks to inculcate the value of books among students by preserving, re-using or donating them.
Year of Reading Initiatives
The Ministry of Economy actively participated and made great contributions on this government initiative. A major highlight was the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Ministry of Economy and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation. According to the MoU, entitled ‘Reading is a Catalyst for Exploring the Future of the UAE Economy’, both sides will cooperate to launch various initiatives that will enhance the country’s cultural climate and encourage reading. The MoU also affirms both parties to issue publications and hold cultural events that will support research and development and increase public awareness.
The Ministry also implemented the Reading Hour Initiative, led by the Support Services Sector, wherein the employees of the Ministry were given the opportunity to visit the International Book Fair during official working hours, in coordination with their line managers.