Hadeel Anwar from Sudan declared Arab Reading Champion 2019

Photo: WAM

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; and H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, crowned Hadeel Anwar from Sudan as the Arab Reading Champion 2019 in a grand ceremony held at Dubai Opera.

Anwar took home AED500,000 after outperforming four finalists with her ability to communicate accurately and creatively in Arabic, demonstrating the general knowledge acquired from her diverse options of books.

Imam Al Nawawi School for boys from Saudi Arabia won the AED1 million "Best School" award out of 67,000 schools in the Arab world, as part of the fourth edition of the Arab Reading Challenge, while Amira Najeeb from Egypt was declared the "Outstanding Supervisor," taking home AED300,000 after outperforming 99,000 supervisors across the Arab world.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also crowned Mahmoud Bilal from Sweden as the Arab Reading Champion of the Arab students living in foreign countries. Bilal took home a cash prize of AED100,000.

The ceremony, attended by over 3,000 guests, has brought another round of the challenge to a closing with more than 13.5 million students across 49 countries taking part this year.

Millions of viewers across the world have followed the intense competition between the 16 semi-finalists from 14 Arab countries through seven episodes of the first-of-its-kind reality TV show, broadcast weekly on MBC1, leading up to the grand ceremony.

A challenge for the future Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum congratulated the winners and participants of the challenge. He said, "The Arab world has been rewarded with the Arab Reading Champions and their passion of knowledge and eagerness to become the main pillars of the prosperous future of their countries."

He added, "The Arab Reading Champions are the hope for our region to effectively contribute to the journey of human progress."

"We are the real winners of enlightened Arab youth and winners of the hope they have brought to our region. Our youth demonstrate our region’s capability to reignite its profound history as a beacon of civilization and knowledge."

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum noted, "Every participant of the 13.5 million students presents hope for a better tomorrow." He stressed that "our mission is to nurture, support and invest in the reading champions to become role models for tens of millions of Arab youth across the world." He said, "Reading is the first step towards a better future driven by knowledge and learning. Nations that read will lead the future."

He concluded, "With ambitious, persistent and knowledgeable youth, the Arab nation will be capable of reviving the status it deserves in the world."

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior also took part in awarding the top contestants and finalists, in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation and Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future and Secretary General, Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives.

The finalists Through her creative expression and quick wit in answering questions of the judging panel, Sudanese Hadeel Anwar garnered higher public vote during the ceremony. She scored her big win after the public vote was combined with the judging panel’s evaluation.

Anwar shined among the other finalists Jumana Al Malki from Saudi Arabia, Fatima Al Zahra Akhyar from Morocco, Aya Boutreaa from Tunisia and Abdulaziz Al Khaldi from Kuwait.

The five were shortlisted after several stages of eliminations showcased in seven weekly episodes of the Arab Reading Challenge TV show. The 16 semi-finalists from 14 countries partook several challenges before a judging panel that evaluated their reading comprehension, critical and analytical skills, general knowledge, and creative expression in Arabic.

The judging panel members who evaluated the contestants during the semi-finals and the grand final ceremony are Dr. Laila Labidi, Assistant Professor in the Arabic Language Department at the University of Sharjah; Jamal Suleiman, Syrian actor and director; and Dr. Barween Habib, Bahraini poet, researcher and media personality.

Best School Saudi Arabia’s Imam Al Nawawi School for boys was selected among the three shortlisted schools, out of the wider 67,000 schools in the Arab world. The school took away AED1 million dedicated to supporting its knowledge initiatives and programs and developing its academic facilities.

Besides the winning school, the other two shortlisted were Lebanon’s Al Haddadin Secondary School for Girls in Tripoli and the UAE’s Al Rams Primary School.

The school won the coveted prize for encouraging its 566 students to read 50 books and participate in this year’s challenge. The school rolled out 103 social and cultural events that involved parents and the local community throughout the year and recorded different participations across the region, including the Sharjah International Book Fair.

It distributed over 25,000 books among students and the local community, established a digital library and reading corners in classrooms and dedicated special attention to supporting people of determination and non-Arabic speakers to participate in the challenge.

For the third year in a row, the public participated in selecting the Best School through an online voting that was open on the Arab Reading Challenge official website for one week.

The selection of the best school combined a percentage of the public vote with the decision of a judging panel of academic experts and specialists.

A song for the Arab world Prominent Lebanese singer Majida El Roumi performed a specially-produced song of hope during the Arab Reading Challenge final ceremony, written by Egyptian poet Medhat Al Adl and composed by Lebanese Michel Fadel.

Ahmed Al Yamahi and Shahed Ballan presented the ceremony that went live on MBC1 with attendance of over 3,000 delegates, Arab ministers, authors, participating students and their families across 49 students.

The ceremony showcased the milestones of the Arab Reading Challenge since its inception in 2015. It also highlighted inspiring stories of participating students, supervisors and schools across the Arab world, and the outstanding participation of students from foreign countries.

Growing interest The challenge this year has drawn more than 13.5 million students supported by over 99,000 supervisors from 67,000 public and private schools.

The challenge’s fourth edition recorded an overwhelming participation of 15,000 more schools as compared to last year’s 52,000 schools.

Elimination stages to select the Arab Reading Champion begin at class level, then school level, proceeding to the level of the educational district, directorate or governorate, leading up to selecting the top 10 students from each country before filtering down the national winners. Students read and summarize 50 books to qualify for the challenge.

The "Best School" takes away AED1 million award, while the "Outstanding Supervisor" wins AED300,000 cash prize. The Arab Reading Champion takes home AED500,000 cash prize, bringing the total of prizes distributed to AED11 million.

The Arab Reading Challenge In 2015, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum challenged students to read and summarize 50 books in one academic year. He extended his invite to Arabs living in foreign countries during the challenge’s closing ceremony two years ago, increasing the number of participating countries from 44 to 49 this year.

Moroccan Mariam Amjoun was announced the Arab Reading Champion last year at the age of nine, while Tasneem Aidi from France was declared the winner of the Arab students living in foreign countries. The third edition drew 10.5 million students across the world after opening the doors to Arab students living in foreign countries for the first time.

Palestinian Afaf Al Sharif was declared the Arab Reading Champion 2017, in an edition that drew 7.4 million students from 41,000 schools, double the participation of the previous year’s 3.5 million students from 30,000 schools. In the first edition, Algerian Mohammed Farah Jalloud was announced as the first-ever Arab Reading Champion at the age of seven.

The challenge, held under the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), aims to instill the culture of reading among the young generation, revive the status of the Arabic language and contribute to creating an enlightened Arab generation capable of building the future and effectively contributing to the development journey of their countries.

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