Mohammed Bin Rashid Congratulates UAE Winner of Arab Reading Challenge

Almost 318,000 students from over 900 UAE schools competed

Dubai, UAE: 9 October, 2017

UAE student Hafsa Rashid Al Dhanhani was announced the winner of the second round of the Arab Reading Challenge (ARC) UAE national heats after competing with almost 318,000 students. Amina Al Sakb from the Ras Al Khaimah Education Zone was awarded the distinguished supervisor award and the Emirates National School in Abu Dhabi received the UAE’s best school award, beating out five other finalists. All the UAE finalists were honoured today at a ceremony organised by the Ministry of Education.

UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said, “We are proud of the over 300,000 UAE students who participated in the challenge, and congratulate the winner Hafsa Al Dhanhani. The more our children read, the more optimistic our future becomes; our goal is to empower generations of educated and tolerant graduates.”

He continued, “We will celebrate next week, at the Dubai Opera, the seven million students, 40,000 schools and 75,000 supervisors who participated in the Arab Reading Challenge across the Arab World and supported our mission. We will also honour the winning school with USD 1 million, and the highest-ranking students with awards amounting to USD 3 million, dedicated to promoting education and, through their learning, happiness.”

Hafsa Rashid Al Dhanhani is in the 10th grade at Murbah Secondary School for Girls in Fujairah; she was selected based on her varied book choices throughout the competition, as well as her deep understanding of concepts, and her excellence in summarizing, analysing and critiquing the books. She also stood out due to her self-confidence, and her ability to showcase her character, culture and personality.

Amina Al Sakb was honoured as the most distinguished supervisor in the country; she was selected due to her unwavering commitment to the challenge, her impeccable organisational skills and her careful follow-ups with other supervisors and participating students in the Ras Al Khaimah education district. Al Sakb also designed a dedicated electronic system to follow up with teachers, and used a variety of social media channels to raise awareness of the importance of the Arab Reading Challenge, and of reading in Arabic, encouraging all students to develop reading as a daily habit.

The Emirates National School in Abu Dhabi achieved a significant increase in student participation in ARC’s second round – to stay organised, the school developed an electronic platform for student participation and follow ups. It also developed a clear and systematic reading programme in the school that appealed to students based on their interests, and that organised activities dedicated to increasing student participation in the challenge and to establishing reading as a part of day-to-day life.

His Excellency Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, stressed the important role ARC plays in promoting reading in Arabic and enhancing the education system in the Arab world. He said, “The challenge encourages recreational reading, which engages students more positively, and improves their knowledge-base, critical thinking skills and overall understanding.”

Al Hammadi continued, “The main objective of the challenge is to support an educated, tolerant, and open-minded generation of Arabs who are accepting of others – reading is an essential tool in achieving this. It is also important that we engrain these values in the hearts and minds of young people, promote them through engaging initiatives like ARC, and keep them at the chore of our education strategy.”

Al Hammadi also expressed his happiness at the level of student participation in the UAE, and stressed his optimism at participating in the challenge in the years moving forward.

UAE Minister of State for Public Education, Her Excellency Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi, said “Improving education and supporting cultural activities in the Arab world are priorities for the UAE’s leadership, which has introduced an executive and legislative framework to institutionalise reading in the state.”

She asserted that the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is to establish an Arab generation that can actively take part in building its future and advancing its reality, which is reflected in many of the cultural and knowledge-based initiatives launched by His Highness.

“The participation of almost 318,000 students and 983 schools in the UAE depicts the importance of this project, and the efforts of everyone concerned to consolidate reading among young people and to support the efforts of the state to promote a sustainable model for reading in the society,” she added.

All ten student finalists were also honoured at the ceremony, respectively; Aisha Saeed Al Awadhi (4th grade at the School of Research Science), Maryam Adnan Mohammed Al Hammadi (10th grade at Julfar Secondary School for Girls), tied in third with Haya Amad Hamdan (12th grade at Al Dhabiania Private School), followed by Salamah Mohammed Al Kabbi (12th grade at Al Rfaa Primary and Secondary School), Fatima Abdul Rahman Al Nuaimi (8th grade at Al Ittihad Private School, Al Mamzar branch), Shawq bint Saeed Al Mahri (9th grade at Al Kuwait Intermediate Girls School), Safa Ahmad Al Mahamid (9th grade at Safiah bint Hayy Secondary School), Jawiriya Abu Bakr Idris (11th grade at Al Jurf Seconday School), Mariam Abeed Rashid Al Zaabi (5th grade at Umm Al Fadl bint Hamza School), followed by a tie in tenth place between Fatima Farj Al Amiri (5th grade at Sharjah Private School) and Ranim Saleh Al Kadiri (7th grade at Almaharat Private School). 

In the UAE, the number of students enrolled in the second round of the Arab Reading Challenge was 317,801 – a 100% increase from last year. The students competed in two qualifiers, with over 250 making it through to the second phase in April.