UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum today crowed Afaf Sherif from Palestine the champion of the Arab Reading Challenge. Al Iman School in Bahrain won the best school title and Houriya Al Thil from Morocco was honoured as the most outstanding supervisor.
At the finale of the second round of the Challenge, His Highness said, “We invite all Arab students across the world to join us and to compete in ARC next year; we want to bring Arabs together in the spirit of education and competition.”
He continued, “ARC has revealed the passion young Arabs have for knowledge; they are the ones who will build our future on the solid pillars of culture and intellect. I am proud of the seven million participants, who have shown us that we are on the right path to civilisation. The real winner today is the Arab world.”
“Participation in the Arab Reading Challenge is not geographically limited, and is open to any Arab who wants to compete, read in Arabic, and develop a strong intellect. Reading is the strongest foundation for great civilisations, built on the values of tolerance, openness and balance. ARC is one of many initiatives we have launched to support knowledge-based programmes that touch over 10 million people each year,” he concluded.
His Highness also honoured the family of 17-year-old Fatima Gulam from Algeria, who suffered a tragic accident that led to her death as she travelled to the ARC finals in Algeria. He dubbed her the Reading Hero, honoured her parents, and announced the opening of ten libraries in her name.
Afaf Sharif, who won the grand prize of $150,000, was among the top five ARC 2017 finalists. The other finalists in were Sherif Mustafa from Egypt in second place, Hafsa Al Dhanhani from the UAE in third, Shaza Al-Tuwairqi from Saudi Arabia in fourth and Bouchra Maysoum from Algeria in fifth.
Afaf Sharif won over the votes of the audience and judges by answering the final questions with confidence, clarity and eloquence. The five finalists made it to the closing ceremony after a round of qualifying examinations which took place in Dubai over the last two days.
At the ceremony, a specialised jury asked finalists several questions, based on which they were able to display their competence, and sway the audience to vote for them in real-time. The jury members were Bilal Al Badoor, Badrya Al Bishr and the winner of the ARC distinguished teacher award in 2016, Hanan Al Hroob.
The best school Award
Al Iman School – Girls sector, in Bahrain, won the best school award, and the $1 million prize. The runners-up were Al-Hassad Al-Tarbawi School in Jordan in second and Emirates National Schools in the UAE, which came in third place.
Throughout the year, Al Iman School in Bahrain organised several events to promote reading and literacy, involving its all-female students, teachers, parents and various sectors of the community. They organised student trips, book fairs, held lectures on reading and invited writers and other creative people to speak.
Al-Hassad Al-Tarbawi School in Jordan designed a programme to promote various aspects of the challenge, including classroom activities, motivational competitions and community-based activities.
The Emirates National Schools adopted an integrated approach to ARC, developing plans to ensure that students achieve outstanding results by preparing initiatives, events and literary and cultural competitions aimed at making reading a daily habit in students’ lives. Emirates National Schools also invested in the public library and school libraries, as well as engaging family members so that they can support the participants.
The other school finalists were Hassan Abu Baker Experimental Integrated Language School from Egypt, Araba Elementary School from Palestine, and Abdul Hamid Dar Obeid Secondary School from Algeria, who also invested in activities and programmes to support students participating in ARC.
The best school was elected by the public, who were invited to vote on the ARC website one week prior to the closing ceremony. Over four million people from around the world voted.
The award recognizes the efforts of supervisors and coordinators, teachers and managers of schools to guide and support students and follow them throughout the challenge.
The most distinguished supervisor award
Houriya Al Thil from Morocco won the most distinguished supervisor award, along with a $100,000 prize. The award, which is a new award this year, seeks to honour the teachers and supervisors who dedicate their time to support and guide students in their endeavour to learn and expand their horizons.
The Arab Reading Challenge 2017
Incentives and awards for ARC 2017 amounted to a total of over $3 million, dedicated to the winners as well as the competition finalists.
Over 7.4 million students from 41,000 schools in 25 countries around the world, supported by 75,000 supervisors and 1,500 arbitrators, participated ARC this year, reading altogether over 200 million books.
During the year, students were required to read a minimum of 50 books, covering various cultural and intellectual fields, and to summarize them in ARC passports, followed by discussing them thoroughly and eloquently with teachers and then final judges.
The closing ceremony was hosted by media moguls Mustapha Al Agha and Parween Habib, and was attended by over 1,800 people, including a large number of officials and ministers of education and culture in various Arab countries, and media professionals and intellectuals. Hussain Al Jassmi, Kathem Al Saher and Abeer Nehme made special appearances and inspiring performances.
The ceremony was held at the Dubai Opera, celebrating the students, supervisors and schools in the Arab world that shine a light of hope of our future.
The Arab Reading Challenge
ARC is part the United Arab Emirates’ mission to serve the Arab community. It aims to promote a sustainable model for reading through an integrated system of student-supervisor follow-ups and support. The project hopes to instigate a cultural renaissance in the Arab world by raising awareness of the importance of reading in Arabic, and spreading the values of tolerance and acceptance through literature and education.
In its first round, ARC attracted more than 3.5 million students who read 150 million books in one year. Mohammed Abdallah Jalood from Algeria won the title of best student, and Talaih Al Amal High School in Palestine won the best school award.
ARC is an important element in the work of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI). MBRGI entities working within the education and learning sector include Dubai Cares, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, the Mohammed bin Rashid Library, the Mohammed bin Rashid Knowledge Summit, the Arabic eLearning Project, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award.